OLUWATIMILEHIN Odubela is the daughter of Mr. John Olusegun Odubela, the immediate past Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology in Ogun State. The lady who just turned 21 made a First Class Honours in Pharmacology and Physiology from the University of Westminster, London, England. Prior to her admission to the university, she did her A’levels at Culford School in Suffolk, Bury St Edmunds, United Kingdom, where she made ABC in Chemistry, Biology and Physics respectively.
She told ENCOMIUM Weekly in this interview what she did to bag First Class.
Let us start by congratulating you on your 21st birthday.
Thank you very much. I am really grateful and thankful to God and my parents as well to be able to celebrate my birthday. It was really good with my family, my sisters and my friends. It was a really good day.
How do you feel turning 21?
At first, I didn’t want to celebrate my birthday but my mom and sisters said 21 is a big year and it’s something to celebrate. I feel very old and I have to start to take responsibility for everything. I have to start thinking about my life, my career and whatever I want to do. People say life begins at 40, it actually begins at 21.
Do you feel 21?
When I went to buy my dress in a shop, the ladies there didn’t think I was 21. They thought I was younger. I probably act younger than my age but I can tell that I am getting matured maybe how I think and what I do. I feel 21.
It was a double celebration for you because you made First Class in school. How do you feel making such grade?
I was so happy. I actually cried, tears of joy for the first time. I was very happy and grateful to God.
Was it something you set out to achieve?
Yes, it was something I set out to achieve. Right from first year, I never missed any lecture. Even if I got distracted in lecture, I always recorded my lectures, so that I could go back to listen to them. I had two one (Second Class Upper) in my first year and second year.
I knew that if I had to get first class in the third year I have to work extra hard. So, I used to walk to the library from my house and stay there till 1 a.m and walk back home and wake up at 5 a.m to study again. I guess it was basically hard work, and if you believe, you will also pray. Anyone can get a First Class.
What other extra efforts did you make that other students didn’t?
I got really close to my lecturers. I asked them questions if I didn’t get something. I email them. They appreciate it when you email them because they will always reply you. They like people that want to know more. The lecturers used to say that it is very easy to get 2:1. Anyone can get 2:1. But to get a First Class, you have to put in extra effort. I guess I put in the extra effort and I got a First Class.
You had your First Class in Pharmacology and Physiology. What is the course all about?
I want to be a medical doctor. I did this pre-med trying to see what it is like. A friend of mine who was a medical student at Cambridge told me medicine is divided into two which is Pharmacology and Physiology. Pharmacology is about drugs and everything while Physiology is all about how the body works, diseases and everything.
Usually, you will find people doing either Pharmacology or Physiology but I wanted to do both. I researched and I found out that University of Westminster offers both. So, I chose to do Pharmacology and Physiology. It’s just basically to prepare me for medical school.
So, you are still going back to medical school?
Yes, I am going to medical school in September/October 2015.
How many years will that be for you?
It will be an extra four years. I am ready. I have always wanted to be a doctor. Though with my degree I can work in a pharmaceutical company or in the pharmacy department of a hospital but my dream is to be a medical doctor. That definitely is what I am going to do. My daddy said why don’t you get a Ph.D. Yes, getting a Ph.D will be good but I want to be known as Dr. Odubela.
Can you stand blood and dead bodies?
I am already into these things. When I am home I always make sure I do voluntary work. I have travelled to Malawi to do voluntary work, to help people. I have worked in the hospital in England and Nigeria. I did one at Federal Medical Hospital, Abeokuta. I worked with some of the junior doctors then and shared their experiences.
What would you say inspired you to study medicine when your father is a lawyer?
It is really weird because my dad is a lawyer and my two sisters are studying law. I think my path is different. I love to be a lawyer. I love what my dad does. He is really good at what he does.
Is your mom a lawyer too?
No, she is a fashion designer. My daddy is really good at what he does. He and my sisters always talk about law. In fact, anytime I want to get something from my dad I used to call on my sister to tell me the words to use and she would tell me and I get what I wanted from my dad. She is good at what she does. She is really confident. But my passion is in medicine.
How did you survive abroad with your parents here in Nigeria most of the time?
I was in England for five years. I did A’levels for two years and university for three years. The first two years were very, very tough. But the good thing was that my mom called me almost 20 times in a day and was always in England every holiday. So, I still felt at home. I also used to talk with my sisters to keep in touch with them.
Are you in the same school with your sisters?
I was the only one there in my first year, but now we are all together. My immediate younger sister goes to University of Westminster. She is in second year of law, while my other sister, the last one who is 17 is at University of Leeds to study law as well. I am proud of my sisters. We get to see each other every holiday. My mummy always made sure we are always together and we talk every day on the phone. We are really close.
How come you were not distracted by the lifestyle abroad despite the absence of your parents?
If you know what you are meant to do, you will do what you are meant to do. It is all about planning and setting your goals. I work hard and put extra effort to get my set goals.
What about male attention, don’t you get distracted by them?
(Laughs) Oh no. I have friends.
Do you have a boyfriend?
Yes, he is in the military school here in Nigeria.
That certainly will reduce the level of distraction.
No. It is still about knowing what you are there to do and knowing your goal. If you have someone like my mom that believes in you and encourages you every time, you will know what to do.
What will be your advice to other students?
I will say work really hard because your hard work will pay. It will always pay.
– TOLANI ABATI