Almost one year after concluding his undergraduate, Oluwole Adeuyi is now a researcher at Cardiff University and a winner of World Energy Forum Essay.
The 24-year-old Nigerian recounts the story of how he got life and divinity wrong by thinking the best he can achieve depends entirely on graduating with a first class degree.
Unfortunately Oluwole fondly called Wole by his close acquaintances was denied a first class degree as he finally concluded his undergraduate programme from University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Nigeria, with 4.45 which was only five points away from his desired grade.
Disappointed and Shattered by the result, he resigned to fate: “The most challenging part was probably after my whole programme when I realised that eventually I was never going to graduate with a first class. I thought the best I can be in life will only have been possible if I had graduated with a first class. It felt like the system didn’t really appreciate the efforts that students put in,” he lamented.
Most often than not, lecturers in Nigerian universities complain of ‘no time’ to carry out their various schedules and activities in schools. It is believed that many of them seem to spend much of their time doing things that are not connected to their students, as a result, sometimes there are mistakes in correctly recording students’ grade.
He claims there were mistakes in his result that were not corrected in the final calculation of his grade. “Apart from the result, there are cases where I had the ability to contest my result based on the mistakes that some lecturers made,” he said.
Asked about what kept him going, he said: “Over the weeks I was able to find encouragement in the fact that I actually did my best. The thought of the fact that it was actually my best that I gave helped me to come out of that illusion of feeling that I’ve lost it and I’ve lost it forever.”
However, in 2011, following recommendations from a close relative, he applied and got admission to school of Engineering at Cardiff University in pursuit of a Masters degree in Electrical Energy systems.
As soon as he arrived Cardiff, he began to think of ways to achieve the best during his one year postgraduate studies. He requested to meet his personal tutor who informed him on how important the result of his first semester was and advised him to maximise the opportunity of taking a masters in Cardiff.
“Shortly after I arrived Cardiff, I was thinking about the next step after the masters’ programme and I think my very first interaction with my personal tutor was not going to come to an end until I have asked that question.
“The last question I asked him was what the pathways are for someone who desires a prosperous academic year,” he said.
His focus throughout the first semester bagged him an average within the 80s after which the same personal tutor became convinced of his preparedness to reach the top. The tutor therefore gave him some links where he could find opportunities related to his course of study.
While other students were busy wining and dining with friends and travelling around, he was steadfast in searching for jobs online. Before long, he found a research advert posted by Cardiff University for which a desired quality for successful applicant was that they should be a PhD holder or have some years of experience.
Oluwole was shortlisted for the position and after a thorough interview he was offered the job. “I applied, I was shortlisted and graciously I was offered the position,” he said with a smile on his face.
Part of his responsibilities as a researcher which is to last for two years will involve investigating a major European Electrical Energy infrastructure and working directly with the director of Institute of Energy at Cardiff school of engineering.
Oluwole has not always been a focused student from the beginning but he made sacrifices to enable him achieve his desired goals. During his secondary school education he was like any regular student who plays out the whole semester and tries to study two days before exams.
“I think I never really used to be serious about my studies. I always believed I can leave the study to the last minute and still not fail. That was the structure of my studies in secondary school. I’ll play out my whole semester and try to study two days to exams.
“I really didn’t know that actually there is much more in me than I’ve realised. There was much more divine providence has blessed me with than I knew of. Somewhere during my pre-degree studies I was privileged to get a better understanding of what life was and what it means to actually put one’s best in whatever you lay your hands on.”
He developed a new approach to life. “I began to see it like I’m a failure if I get anything less than what God has gifted me to achieve. So I began to ask myself questions like what are those things that distract me from my studies. I was able to identify them,” he stressed.
Among the things he had to drop was his obsession with computer games and also had to do away with friends that impacted little or nothing to his life. “I think also it was about hanging around with the wrong set of friends who were just interested in inviting me for parties rather than study groups. I had to identify them as they were, called them what they were and said goodbye to them. At first it looked and felt like a lonely world, nobody was ready to reckon with me and in the end it paid off,” he said.
In June, Oluwole found an advert online featuring an essay competition hosted by World Energy Forum entitled Sustainable energy for all: Visions, Reality and Solutions.
Being a benevolent person who is concerned about his friends, he sent the link to about six or seven friends who sent replies saying they were busy with their dissertations.
“I said to myself. Well if nobody will do it, can I give it a try? With five days to the submission, I began to read around the topic. When I read through the requirements and the prizes, what trilled me more was that the top ten essays of successful candidates will be published. Been among the first three was never a motivation to me. It didn’t cross my mind. It was just the thought of publication,” he said.
Surprisingly, in the middle of August Oluwole received a mail saying that out of thousands of essays received, his essay was ranked as the first. Once again, the young man triumphed victoriously.
The second place was awarded to Melissa Stults, a science research fellow and doctoral student at the University of Michigan and third place was bagged by Brendan Mullen an MBA student from Duke University’s Fagua School of Business.
Aside the publication of their essays, the three winners will receive cash prizes $5,000 (1st place), $3,000 (2nd place), $2,000 (3rd place), airfare and accommodations to Dubai, waived registration fee to attend the World Energy Forum and an opportunity to speak at the gathering.
All finalists will also receive a certification of commendation from World Energy Forum.
Speaking passionately about the lessons he’s drawn from his experience, Oluwole said: “More like never before, I have come to learn that, no matter what we may have gone through in life, we should never despair. We should strive to always keep making up our minds to keep giving our best come what may.
“Even though we may have had a very disappointing start, don’t focus or cling to the past, try to have a clear mind, engage in the task at hand choosing more like never before to improve on your previous experience. Put in your best in the task you have at hand. No matter the successes, no matter the achievements, there is always more to be done. Keep moving ahead, the best is yet to come.”
Furthermore, he recommended: “Whatever we find ourselves doing we should endeavour to give it our best shot and whichever way it turns out, don’t be discouraged once you know you have given it your best shot.”