By: Ikugbadi Oluwasegun.
Q: Good morning. Please, introduce yourself.
I am Samuel Oshinuga, generally known as Bow. I am a graduate of the Department of Actuarial Science and Insurance of the University of Lagos. Before joining the department from the 2016/17 session, I studied Mathematics and Statistics and did that from 2013/14 to 2015/16. I took advantage of what’s now jokingly termed as the “January transfer window” to change programmes, and I’ve enjoyed every bit of it.
Q: You were previously in the department of mathematics, before you transferred to the department of Actuarial science. Why did you transfer?
Yes, I was done with 300 Level when I made the decision, and there are many speculations as to why I did it. I must be honest too. I took that decision for many reasons, but I must say that it wasn’t due to academic issues. I was on a truly solid CGPA at the time of that decision. Firstly, the Mathematics department was becoming increasingly hostile. Even though I had good grades, it wasn’t a labour of love. Secondly, there were critical parts of being a graduate that I knew were missing. I knew I had an expansive mind, but I was only preoccupied with academics and student politics. I had time for nothing else. These two thought points forced a comprehensive assessment of the gaps between the desired and the actual. But I won’t be selfish with the credit – Oluwaseun Mustapha, Paul Sulola and Fawaz Abdul – had considerable roles in the decision-making process. The conversations were tight, but ultimately, we all agreed it was necessary. Oluwaseun, himself, had transferred from Mathematics to Actuarial Science a year earlier, so he provided real-time perspective. Again, it was challenging, but we had the most productive conversations. I had to move, I am glad I did.
Q: Does this mean Actuarial science was easier having become the overall best student in the department of Actuarial science and Insurance.
No. Not necessarily. People have that faux theorem. I absolutely disagree that the actuarial science curriculum is an easier one. Being the best graduating student in any department is a function of personal gravitation and many other variables, not due to an easier curriculum. As a matter of fact, it’s a more diverse curriculum. It requires a more varied knowledge base because you’d take courses from a host of other departments and faculties. This differs significantly from what is obtainable in Mathematics, where you’d only take courses from just two or three other departments. In my final year, I took an elective from the Faculty of Social Sciences and a compulsory Commercial Law course in my penultimate year. So, that’s an untrue assertion.
Q: What are the things you did that made you stand out among your colleagues?
I generally try to avoid answering this question because everyone has unique lives and preferences. It will be disrespectful to make it look like my system of doing things is superior or better. My approach to academic endeavours is quite unorthodox, and I think my classmates know that I am not a model student. I generally miss classes, and when I attend, I’m always dozing off. I can’t be bothered about writing lectures notes. I’d rather photocopy them, and the ladies in my class were so generous with this. Every model is bespoke, but I think there has to be an understanding of what works and what does not.
Q: As an undergraduate, what are social and extracurricular activities that you participated while at school?
Everything. On the social aspect, almost nothing was off-limit except the consumption of illicit drugs. We had fun, great fun. On the extracurricular part, I was involved in basically every form of student group on campus, except the religious. I was the President of the Actuarial Club, and in that capacity, I was the creative force behind our ground-breaking National Risk Compendium project. During the 2015/16 session, I was a member of Parliament in the now-suspended University of Lagos Students’ Union. I also delved into the University debate space, and in 2018, I won the University debate championship with my partner, Lawrence Ebosie. And these are just a few highlights. I am proud to say I enjoyed almost every aspect of campus life at the University of Lagos.
Q: You are the best graduating student in your department, and you haven’t disclose your CGPA.
This is very funny. I doubt that one’s CGPA is a confidential affair. I must have finished with a 4.74 out of the maximum 5.00.
Q: What are the benefits you got within and outside school for achieving a distinction as an undergraduate.
Invariably, there are many benefits within and outside the University per being a first-class student or graduate. Most primarily is the prestige and almost-default trust the student community endows on you as it concerns academic matters. Some certain privileges that lecturers afford you that are not even remotely available to students with lesser grades. Additionally, these types of grades may help unlock financial awards and aid depending on your field of study. However, none of these compares to the opportunities that you can avail yourself of, as a first-class graduate. In my case, I’ve had two jobs since I completed my studies. The latter (a placement with leading professional services firm in the country) resulted from being among the top students in my class. I didn’t even apply for the job; we were scouted through the department, and it’s been a wonderful experience. Also, the designation can make you a competitive candidate for foreign postgraduate admissions even if there are other factors to be considered. So really, I think you’d appreciate it more when you’re out of school.
Q: Would you have felt bad if you didn’t make first class?
Well, I think so. I am essentially a competitive person. Expectations are that you do your best and the best outcomes follow. I think that I put in the work that I felt was required to obtain a first class degree. So, yeah, I would have felt disappointed.
Q: You have passed through Nigeria education system, what can you say about it?
I usually have a lot to say on this topic, but I will be quite prompt for the very sanity of readers. My utmost concern is the huge nature of the gaps in the acquired knowledge base, technical know-how and administrative preference between what’s obtainable here versus what you have in saner climes. However, this is how I rationalise it. I paid an average of NGN 16,000 (less than US$ 50) tuition fee per session for university education. It’d be unhealthy to adjudicate based on what happens in places where education costs thousands of dollars. So maybe this is a case of getting the quality we pay for. Correcting this will not be immediate because the variables and operational constraints are pretty substantial and will require a long-term, multifaceted approach. The operators of the educational space are essentially not prepared to undertake the work. The status quo isn’t the best but that’s what we have. As a student, my philosophy was to get my shoulders down and grind out my desirable outcomes.
Q: Can You Share Your Ugliest Experience(s) During Your Undergraduate, If Any?
Ah! There were quite a few that will last long in my memory. But the most profound was the demise of Sanmi Olaleye, the Insurance class governor, in 2019. He was just 22, and we were approaching our final months as undergraduates. In my estimation, he was the most joyful person you’d ever meet. I was in a lecturer’s office when his death was announced on the class group chat. For me, that was a tough moment and experience.
Q: what did you feel about the postponement of the Convocation?
I thought the postponement was greatly disappointing. I don’t want to get into my opinions on the nature and sequence of events that led to its postponement. To be frank, speaking for myself, the ceremony has lost its relevance and I can’t rationalize attending the ceremony whenever it holds.
Q: Can You Share Your Experience at National Youth Service Corps (NYSC)?
Oh, I’m still serving. My batch was delayed by COVID-19 and the inflexibility of the authorities but it should be completed by Q4 2021. The NYSC experience has been fun, for the most parts. I think there are certain elements of the scheme that should be reviewed or even removed but currently, it is what it is.
Q:What Are Your Aspirations After School?
I do not have definite endgames in mind. I have never had one. But when I retire, I want to be happy and at peace with whatever the achievements and failures are. This is not a lack of ambition – people who know me know this – but a recognition of the most important 21st century theme. One has to have multiple, flexible short-term adjustments.
Q: Is there anything that you wish to tell the world?
Grateful. Yes, that’s the word. That I am thankful, in a most superlative manner, for the opportunities, plethora of second chances and fantastic support. While my personal affinity for new experiences and knowledge may be high, I have had help from many people and places. And that’s what humanity should be about. We have all flaws and I, more than anyone else, know that. I have my character flaws but to know that certain people have maintained love towards me is a thing of joy, really. I won’t mention names, but I am grateful to everyone and every group.