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    Saturday, February 3, 2024

    My Parent Shows Lot of Support, Gives Me Second Chance -First-Class Graduate

    Twenty-four-year-old Toluwani Awosika from Ondo town, Ondo State, graduated with first-class honours in Public Administration with a CGPA of 4.67 from Mountain Top University, Ogun State. He speaks with TEMITOPE ADETUNJI over his switch from Pan-Atlantic University to Mountain Top University due to poor performance in his initial course

    How do you feel about bagging a first-class degree?

    I experienced a sense of accomplishment and fulfilment due to the story behind my achievement. It took me seven years to accomplish this feat, including changing universities. The journey involved hard work, sleepless nights, and early mornings dedicated to reading. The joy I feel in achieving this is immense.

    As for changing schools, why did you make that decision?

    I attended Pan-Atlantic University, where I was studying Economics. My first and second years went fairly well. However, during the third year, I faced academic challenges, and things became less stable. The workload increased, and I started experiencing difficulties.

    I hoped to overcome these challenges until my fourth year (400 level), but the situation worsened, exacerbated by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. At that point, my parents and I decided to take a bold step and change my environment. Without the occurrence of the COVID-19 pandemic, I might not have considered making this change. I won’t call it a blessing in disguise because, for some people, it was a negative situation.

    What year did you get into Pan-Atlantic University?

    I gained admission to Pan-Atlantic University in 2016. Later, I secured a transfer from Pan-Atlantic University to Mountain Top University, leveraging my grades and transcript. Although my GPA was quite low, it was still above 1.5, allowing me to use it for the transfer. If it had been below 1.5, I would have had to take the UTME and start anew. Consequently, I was transferred to the 200 level at Mountain Top University in 2021 where I studied Public Administration. What significantly aided me was my ability to navigate and discern what worked for me and what didn’t. I utilised this understanding to my advantage.

    Were your academic challenges the driving force behind your choice to study Public Administration at Mountain Top University, or was it a field you were genuinely passionate about?

    Firstly, the plan was to avoid any course involving numbers or mathematics. To be honest, I wasn’t a dull student in secondary school. Therefore, I decided and agreed that I would steer clear of anything related to numbers, opting for fields like Business Administration or Public Administration.

    At Mountain Top University, Public Administration is essentially housed under Business Administration, functioning alongside Industrial Relations and Personnel Management. These three areas fall under the umbrella of Business Administration. It then became a matter of choosing which one I believed I could cope with.

    Recalling my affinity for Government in secondary school and my early interest in politics, I thought Public Administration would be an engaging field to work in. Additionally, it offered the advantage of avoiding extensive numerical components. Hence, I decided to settle for Public Administration.

    When I started attending Mountain Top University, I became a frequent visitor to the library from day one. Initially, I used to think that people who spent a lot of time in the library were overdoing it. However, I continued going to the library, and what I realised was that back at Pan-Atlantic University, whenever we had a test, I used to wait until the night before or even the morning of the test before I started reading.

    Learning from that experience, I took the time to prepare and study ahead, gaining knowledge before it was taught based on the syllabus we had. I always had an idea of what was coming and took it upon myself to understand the lecturer’s expectations, knowing what a lecturer wanted in terms of answers. I picked up from there in the second semester of the 200 level at Mountain Top, where I achieved a CGPA of 4.6. The challenge of balancing studies and life motivated me to excel.

    How did you feel about achieving a 4.6 CGPA in your second year?

    I considered it a positive beginning. After diligent library sessions and hard work on tests, I quickly reaped the rewards. Observing my test results, I recognised that thorough reading ensured success. Consequently, I consistently invested extra effort to stay ahead.

    Do you have other study methods or strategies that you applied?

    Another approach that worked for me was identifying challenging topics and studying them intensively. I prefer independent study over group study and thrive in a quiet environment. These are the methods and strategies I used.

    It was learnt that you also received seven awards, how true is that?

    Yes, it is true. I got seven awards, including the Chancellor’s Wife Prize for First-Class Student; I also got Mr Olufemi Oyewole’s Prize for Most Well-Behaved Graduating Male Student, Pastor Femi Ayodele’s Prize for Best-Behaved Graduating Male Student, Gbenga Olumilua’s Prize for Best Graduating Student in Each Academic Programme, Pastor Aderemi Oseni’s Prize for Best Graduating Student in Public Administration Programme, Mrs Grace Titi Laoye’s Prize for Best Graduating Male Student in Public Administration, and Mr Adebowale Olujimi’s Prize for Best Graduating Student in Public Administration Programme.

    Can you highlight a specific project or coursework that had a significant impact on your academic and personal development?

    Primarily, courses like e-governance, public structure, and similar ones related to the theories of Public Administration, politics, and the structure of local government.

    What challenges did you encounter during your studies, and how did you overcome them?

    I still deal with a bit of procrastination. Occasionally, when feeling fatigued, there are lapses. In my 200 level, I struggled with procrastination, which was a significant challenge, but I managed to overcome it.

    How did your experiences at Mountain Top University shape your understanding of Public Administration?

    The experience centred on effective teaching by knowledgeable lecturers. They recognised my interest in Public Administration and dedicated extra time to explain theories and structures.

    Did you have any social life while in school?

    Due to past challenges at Pan-Atlantic University, I abstained from extracurricular activities, solely focusing on academics. Despite the difficulty, I maintained this approach to achieve my academic goals.

    Having excelled academically, what specific skills or qualities do you believe set you apart in the field of Public Administration?

    I paid a lot of attention to hard work, I just kept working and reading, I was able to outwork everyone in my department and put in more effort. The specific skill I used was listening and learning skill; listening for me was so important.

    How do you stay updated on current trends and developments in the field, and how do you incorporate them into your professional knowledge?

    I do this through the Internet; I spend most of my time on YouTube just learning different things, different ideas that may come to mind on political structure, public administration, even business administration, the latest happenings in the country and outside the country, just comparing and contrasting with different political structures in the world.

    What role do you believe effective leadership plays in the realm of public administration, and how do you envision yourself contributing as a leader in the future?

    Effective leadership is just basically leadership that works. So, in terms of the leader being able to carry his followers along and being able to cater to things that they may need or want or things that let them function effectively as followers, at the same time, the leader needs the followers to work.

    So, I will just say following the root of always trying to cater to people and carry people along in terms of maybe if I ever delve into the aspect of politics or just holding a leadership position, just being able to carry people along, hear people out, that is why I have a special likeness for the course, ‘Local Government’ because it will help you hear out people on what they need for things to work in society.

    How do you approach problem-solving within the context of public administration, and can you provide an example from your academic or personal experience?

    I realised that one of the major things we studied during my 400 level was when President Muhammadu Buhari was able to cut the transfer of allocation of the local governments, and just take it directly from the federal to the local government level; that was a good thing he did, solving the problem of funding getting to those people in the local government.

    So, I think in terms of problem-solving, you just use the rationale approach like defining the problem, identifying the causes, brainstorming for possible solutions, you have options that you want to use, then maybe you can make use of the implementation plan, though I don’t have a personal experience but I can say that the problem I was able to solve was maybe my reading pattern.

    Given your academic success, how do you plan to mentor and inspire others in your field, both within and outside the workplace?

    I think it is important to raise awareness. Nowadays, we have younger people coming into the university and they may not be mature enough to battle the challenges of the university environment, I think it is important to raise awareness, and maybe if I get the chance to speak to people about my experience.

    Can you discuss a situation where you had to collaborate with diverse individuals or teams, and how did you ensure effective communication and teamwork?

    Remember that I told you that we have Business Administration, Public Administration Industrial Relations, and Personnel Management. We had our association, you know when different students from different groups come together to work as a team, so it was quite difficult; we had to use maturity to understand how a particular person wanted communication to be passed across; we had to come together as a team for different projects and build a sense of family.

    In what ways do you think technology can enhance or transform the practice of Public Administration, and how do you stay informed about technological advancements?

    To stay informed about technological advancements, I just basically read newspapers like The PUNCH and other media platforms and business journals. I spend a lot of hours on YouTube as well, and I do a lot of research too.

    Public administration has become advanced, things are now evolving in terms of paper methods; we now use emails and portals; for example, we have a project that we can say okay, what ways can we improve the local government system, an opinion is now a portal whereby in a local government, everyone can just sign in and write their complaints to the local governments online, it makes it easier for the local government people to be able to collate the problems raised.

    Given your academic achievements, what advice do you have for current and future students aspiring to excel in Public Administration?

    They need to learn about different government structures, and just be open to learning; they need to be able to envision themselves in a situation.

    What year did you graduate?

    I graduated on December 21, 2023.

    How did you feel when you saw your results?

    I already had an idea that I was going to finish with the first class; in the first semester of my 400 level, I scored 5.0. I was excited and I felt accomplished.

    What do you do for now?

    I worked at the New Telegraph newspaper for three months and I just quit, I should be going for my NYSC soon; I plan to work for a year then I can proceed with my master’s degree.

    How do your parents show you their support?

    They showed a lot of support in terms of giving me a second chance, they always prayed for me, and even when I had my academic challenges, they were not insulting me; they showed so much understanding.

    How did they feel when you told them about your result?

    They were excited and grateful, and they were also glad that we decided to change schools on time, which yielded a positive outcome; they showed their gratitude to God.

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