A 25-year-old Valeen Ose has emerged one of the top graduating students of Delta State University, Abraka,Delta State . He obtained a Grade Point Average of 4.60 to earn a first degree in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science for the 2013/2014 academic session. She tells Our correspondent about her experience in school

Valeen Ose.  Photo Credit: Punch

Valeen Ose.
Photo Credit: Punch

How was your growing up?

Growing up was normal for me, nothing extraordinary but just the fact that I was somehow caged by my parents. I had a very strict and disciplinarian for a father who ensured that I was always reading my books and not playing around. My mother, who is now a retired teacher, wasn’t different from my father in that regard. I had to grow up with the knowledge that ‘average’ wasn’t good enough. I remember going home with my report card having come out with first position and my dad would care less as he was more concerned with the grade I had in each course. To him, I had to have A in all courses. This made me more studious to impress him; and indirectly made me an excellent student who paid more attention to details.

What did you dream to become then?

As a child, I had always dreamt to be a medical doctor and my father would have preferred that I studied medicine. He used to call me Dr. Valeen before he died in 2010. It was all I wanted. The least I could have settled for was a medical science course. So I never thought of studying Mathematics and Computer Science, so I would say this course found me. And it is a course that is relevant worldwide and in every sector, including business, entertainment, telecommunications, medicine, transportation, agriculture, homes, architectural and engineering sector, even in security. I also want to be the first female President in Nigeria and the most influential black woman in the world.

Some people run away from Mathematics because they feel it is hard. Is it true?

Mathematics is not easy, neither is it hard. Every course has its own challenges and Computer Science is also not an exception. I have loved mathematics from primary school and excelled in it. That helped a great deal. There is nothing too difficult to learn if only we are committed and ready to learn; if we open up our minds to learn we would find out how easy it just might be. Solving mathematics is just like cooking; we all have different methods of cooking okro soup (that’s my favourite soup by the way) but the finished product is what matters. Find the method that works for you and that’s all. Just like programming, some people find it very challenging but it is the abstract nature of the course that made me appreciate it and it enabled me to think deeply.

Having a first class in this kind of combined course may not have come easily; what did you do differently?

I took a decision right before I entered school that I was going to graduate with a first class and I was determined to see it come to pass. It was very challenging but I thank God that all my efforts paid off. Beyond the determination, I tried as much as possible not to miss any lecture and it helped me to understand things better during my personal study time. At home, I formed personal notes on each course after thorough research on the various topics taught in class (my course mates always found these personal notes helpful as they perpetually requested for them prior to exams). This routine made me read wide and have diversified approach to all my courses. My reading approach was also very different; I applied adaptability to how I read (actually as I could read anywhere and at any time). If a place wasn’t conducive for reading, I would make it conducive by working on my mind which I find very dynamic. Above all, there is the God factor. In order to get total understanding when studying, I always prayed before I picked up a course to study.

Did you have such performance in your previous schools?

My performances in my previous schools were very excellent. In both my primary and secondary school education, I was on top of my class most of the time. I had distinction in my first school leaving certificate and a very good result in my senior secondary school certificate examination. I scored 275 in my first UTME and I chose University of Ibadan as first choice and Delta State University, Abraka, as second choice, although I never really wanted to go there.

How come you didn’t get into UI?

I received the notification date for the interview very late. So, I started a Diploma programme in Computer Science Education at DELSU where I graduated in 2010 with Distinction. I learnt I was the first student to have achieved that in that department and I actually resumed for the programme a month to first semester exams. When I went to see my course adviser in his office, he was angry and saw me as an unserious student but that notion changed when I went back to check my result and I had 4.86 GPA. That was the best in the department then. Since then, I decided to make the best out of the programme and I became the best student in the department that year. It was actually very difficult because as a direct entry student, I offered twice the number of courses that my course mates did, but I still thank God.

For how many hours were you reading daily?

I can’t really measure that but I can read anytime. On the average, I read for 12 hours a day and all through the day during exams. I remember my friends used to complain that I was always reading anytime they visited. My neighbours used to constantly remind me that brain tumour is real and they warned that if I continued at that rate, I would likely become a victim. One good thing about my reading culture is that it was infectious and in no time, friends and neighbours indirectly became more committed to studying.

How many hours did you sleep daily?

At the start of the semester, I could sleep for six hours and during examination period, I could sleep for between one and three hours. Sometimes I wouldn’t sleep so I could cover all the topics for that course and had enough time to set exam questions for myself and answer them. There was a time I went to the exam hall without having a proper bath because I had been involved with studying and I didn’t want to be late. Everything worked together for my good eventually.

How often did you use the library?

I used the library only once throughout and I regretted it because I slept all through. Usually, I read and talk, so the library was not a place for my person, as I would end up disturbing others. I preferred my room where I had the freedom to discuss with my kitchen utensils, my wardrobe, shoes, bed and anything you can think of because I used to turn my reading time to an interview session between my books and anything I cloned to represent the interviewer. It was that serious.

Were you involved in other school activities?

I was involved in school politics. I was a vice-president of my department, a member of the constitution review committee, a practising Barrister (student advocate) of Dele Giwa Law Chamber on campus and other engagements. I also used to be a compere, an actress and a model, and I had won some crowns including Miss Ndokwa, DELSU Chapter 2010, Miss Ndokwa, Federated Union of Ndokwa Students, and Miss Peace Delta 2013. In addition, I have a non-governmental organisation, Tisova Relief Concepts. It’s an events management and modelling outfit where we train models, engage in charitable works and also the initiator of a cultural pageant in Delta State – Nwa-ada Ukwuani Cultural Beauty Pageant. That was in a bid to promote our culture.

Being a model and a brilliant student, how did you handle gestures from men?

It was easy. I ensured that whoever it was ended up becoming hardworking because I always love to impact something positive into others. It was only a few that could measure up to my definition of hard work, so my train left them at the station. My male colleagues disturbed a lot at a certain time but when I spelt out my conditions; they were almost impossible to achieve. That way, it was reduced to the barest minimum.

What was your most embarrassing moment in school?

The day a lecturer asked me to leave the lecture hall during a test simply because he thought I was going to cheat. I missed that test and I felt so embarrassed in front of the whole class. He was a new lecturer and didn’t know me as much so I guess it was just a misunderstanding. This made me study a lot harder for the exam so I could have an A in the course, and thank God I did.

What of your happiest moment?

The day I was awarded as best student in the Computer Science unit of my department was my happiest moment. We had very intelligent students in my time but to be the best was just rewarding.

Were you ever discouraged maybe by virtue of some stories you were told?

I was told some stories but they were hearsay. The stories really discouraged me from working harder as my CGPA dropped to about 4.45. At that point, I felt it wasn’t worth the effort. I spoke to my Course Adviser about it and he assured me that if I merited it, then I would get it. So I worked with that and I met my target. Thanks be to God.

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