Interviews

UNILAG’s youngest medical doctor, Maryam Raji reveals secret of her success at 21

Maryam Raji IMG-20140611-WA0001

-Says education is not forbidden in Islam

Miss Maryam Opeyemi Raji might not be the best graduating student, but she’s probably the youngest medical doctor University of Lagos has produced in the last two decades. Born on May 1993, Maryam gained admission to study Medicine at the prestigious university at 15, by 21 she’s now a doctor.

How she was lucky to have gained admission a year before University of Lagos stopped admitting candidates below 16 was what the Otta, Ogun born youngest medical doctor explained, amongst others, in this exclusive interview with ENCOMIUM Weekly’s RASHEED ABUBAKAR, held on Wednesday, June 11, 2014, at her graduation and induction into the medical profession.

How does it feel being the youngest medical doctor?

It feels so good. I feel elated. Not by my power, it’s a favour from Allah that I would be the youngest. I want to thank everyone, particularly my mom, step-father, teachers, and my mentor, Dr. AbdulHameed Salaudeen for their support. Being the youngest medical doctor is a dream come true.

Was it your childhood ambition to study Medicine?

Not only that I wanted to study Medicine from childhood, it’s also my dad’s dream I become a medical doctor. Unfortunately, I lost him when I was eight. People around me, especially my mom, nurtured the dream. She helped me keep the goal. It was very challenging but having her around kept me focused. I was lucky to attend Vanguards Academy, the secondary school that groomed me. I was among the first graduating students of the school. I began to appreciate being a medical student when I was 300 level. I am grateful to Allah I chose the right profession.

How come you were not affected by UNILAG policy of not admitting students below 16?

I was aware but I wasn’t affected. I didn’t know why, may be because I had a good result and the then registrar was impressed with my result and age. I entered through UNILAG diploma.

What were the strategies that worked for you at the College of Medicine?

The fact that I am a muslim is the first gift. As a muslim, I didn’t engage in acts forbidden by Allah. Acts like drinking alcohol, clubbing, partying, and engaging in unlawful relationship, among others. Also, my secondary school, Vanguards Academy was a training ground for me. It groomed me to become what I am today.

I didn’t miss classes, except when it clashed with the obligatory acts of my deen (Islam). I know the right time to read and I understood whatever I read through Allah’s mercies. This was made possible through the memorisation of the Qur’an. It makes me to remember a lot of things I have read. That’s the secret of my success story.

Do you have a particular schedule you adhere to strictly?

Truthfully, I didn’t have any schedule. I had flexible schedule. However, I always had book(s) with me wherever I went. In 600 level, I started taking my schedule serious. It was really challenging because we were about to be doctors, and we were bombarded with much work.

What’s your CGPA and your most challenging course?

We don’t use CGPA at College of Medicine. It’s either you pass or fail. If you pass, you’ll be certified by the examiners. But if you fail, you have to write the exam again. As for challenging course, I would say Psychiatry, during my 500 level. It’s wider compared to other parts of medicine.

 How did you cope with distractions in school?

I tried as much as possible to avoid distraction. Hence, there were things I didn’t do. I didn’t really watch TV, particularly movies. Instead, I spent my time with patients in their wards. Also, the fact that I am young, I am shy. I am not an outgoing type.

What is your advice to fellow Muslim women, especially at this point when it’s wrongly believed that western education is haram -unlawful?

According to the Qur’an and hadith (sayings of our Prophet), seeking knowledge is compulsory upon all Muslims, irrespective of gender. There is no religion that talks about the importance of knowledge other than Islam. Early Muslims led the world because of their disposition to knowledge. There is nothing like western education, what we know today as western education has its origin from Islam. Saying boko (education) is haram (unlawful) is not part of Islam.  I remember when I was in school, I extracted interesting quotes about knowledge and posted them in my room, to educate and inspire people.

Tell us more about yourself – your growing?

Growing was very interesting and at the same time challenging because I shuttled Lagos, Oyo and Ogun state. I was with my mom in Ibadan (Oyo) before I moved to Lagos to stay with my aunt, and later returned to Ibadan to finish my primary school at UMB Nursery and Primary School. I was six, but I had to repeat class because of my age. So, I gained admission into Vanguards Academy at Isiwo, Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State (now at Odosengolu,Ijebu Ode-Epe express road) at age eight. I was the youngest of my set. I lost my dad same year. That’s why I said it was challenging and interesting.

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