Fifty of the 85 students of Osun State University sent to Ukraine to complete their medical studies by Governor Rauf Aregbesola’s administration in 2013 have graduated from the V.N. Karazin Kharkiv National University, Kharkov, Ukraine and become medical doctors.
One of the new medical doctors, MISS OYELEYE LATEEFAH ABIOLA, was named the overall best graduating student from both the Faculty of Medicine and in a course offered by the entire students of the university. In this interview with TAIWO OKANLAWON, she narrates her journey, challenges and outstanding success.
Question: Can you briefly tell me about your background?
Answer: I am Miss Oyeleye Lateefah Abiola. I’m from a quite large family, a happy one though. I was born and raised in Ibadan, Oyo state, where I attended primary and secondary schools respectively. I had my primary educational at Fountain Private School, my junior secondary school at Muslim Grammar School and further went to Ad-din International College where I completed my secondary education.
I moved on to Osun State University Osogbo to study medicine; studied for 3 years before we got stagnated due to lack of accreditation and the Osun State Government came to our rescue.
My dad has a transporting business; quite strict, but has his children’s great interest at heart. He is a great influence in my life; he is a very responsible man. My mum is into buying and selling. She is the liberal one. I guess that makes it a balanced equation.
Question: How do you feel as the best graduating student in medicine?
Answer: I feel really elated. I feel accomplished; although, I know there is a lot of work ahead, I mean this is just the starting point. I am also happy because I finally proved to myself that what is worth doing at all is worth doing well and that hard work pays. So, generally, I feel happy and grateful.
Question: Have you always been at the top of your class?
Answer: I wouldn’t say specifically, but I have always been a good student. I had good grades throughout my study, but in our first professional exam, I didn’t have the best result, I had the second best result; so, I knew I had to work harder. Sincerely, it’s actually not about good grades only for me; it’s always been about being a great doctor.
The first professional exam was written about three years ago. It’s like an equivalent to the first MBBS exam written in Nigeria.
Question: Tell me about your challenges in school and how you overcame them?
Answer: The first challenge I had as a medical student was coping with the large syllabus in a very short time. We had a lot of things to do in such a small amount of time. So, I had to learn time management, pace myself so I wouldn’t lag behind.
Another major challenge I think every medical student faces [sic] which I also faced was how to remember the things I have read after a long time. This was a big one, I had to constantly try to remember stuff, I mean retrieving information from my memory even when I don’t need them. All these challenges really helped me and also I had to study with a lot of online teachers. There are so many on YouTube, the videos are free. Another thing that helped me study better was investing in good books; I have my dad to thank. Those are some of the challenges I faced.
Question: What lessons has your journey taught you?
Answer: First lesson, hard work pays. Also, perseverance, asking questions and prayers are important ingredients to success. I learnt all these from my own story.
Question: Why did you study medicine, in the first place?
Answer: I wouldn’t go along with the cliché response of ‘I studied medicine because I want to save lives’, no. In the beginning, teaching was my passion, but I didn’t just want to be a teacher; I wanted to be a teacher with a difference, I wanted to teach how to save lives, so I decided to study medicine, that way I get to be a doctor and a teacher at the same time, which I still want to do, but over the years I have come to fall in love with medicine, I want that instant gratification of treating a patient and seeing them get better right in front of you, I mean that is the definition of joy for me.
So, I studied medicine because I wanted to have two established lifesaving careers, being a doctor and being a teacher.
Question: What do you think about the fact that a lot of first class graduates are still job hunting?
Answer: You mean in Nigeria? It’s very heartbreaking, but I think it boils down to the fact that Nigeria is an overpopulated country and you need more than just a degree to be recognized as extraordinary.
Question: What else did you get yourself into apart from study?
Answer: When I was in my third/fourth year, I was an Oriflame consultant. Oriflame is a beauty company that deals in a lot of beauty products and after I wrote my final exams, I learnt make up.
I’m not exactly a very social person, but I attend social events when I chance to[sic]. I am very outspoken person; so, I do a lot of debates and public speaking and like I said earlier, I enjoy teaching. So, I teach, but not commercially but for free.
Question: How about entrepreneurship?
Answer: Yes, I would love to go into business, have a big pharmacy. I also want to have a chain of well-equipped diagnostic centers in Nigeria where people can do all sorts[sic] of medical investigations because there are not so many of that in Nigeria and it’s really affecting our health system.
Question: Your study was put on hold at UNIOSUN due to non-accreditation for lack of a standard teaching hospital, how did you feel then?
Answer: I felt really sad. I saw my dreams almost crashing down in front of me. I thought all hope was lost, but God came into the picture through the Osun state Government and I am very grateful for that.
Question: Governor Aregbesola later came to your rescue by sending you to Ukraine to complete your studies, but government sponsored 87 out of 98 medical students?
Answer: Yes, the government paid all expenses, but some people decided not to come. But everyone who showed interest was sponsored.
Question: So, you are part of success stories of Aregbesola led regime?
Answer: Yes, I am very thankful to the government of the State of Osun.
Question: How did you feel on your convocation day?
Answer: I felt so happy. I have never been celebrated like that in my life. There was so much love and appreciation in the air. It was really overwhelming.
I also saw that day as the beginning of other great things in my life and above all I am very grateful to God.
Question: Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
Answer: 10 years would do it for me. In 10 years by God’s grace, I would be a consultant cardiologist, a senior lecturer and great teacher to my students. I would be on my way to becoming a professor. I would be a wife and a mother.