Aarinola Olaiya is set to become the first medical student to graduate
with distinction in Surgery at the Obafemi Awolowo University since
1989. She shares her experience with Punch’s Chux Ohai, ahead of the
institution’s forthcoming convocation. Excerpts:
What major factor inspired your academic performance in OAU?
I really cannot explain it. What I can say is that
the grace of God has been at work from my first day in the university.
Apart from that, I am a focused person. I always like to have a goal in
mind and I make sure that I focus on that goal without giving room to
distractions. I think this is what happened. Right from the day I was
admitted into the university, I made sure that I remained focused in my
As an undergraduate of Medicine, what was your daily routine like?
Every day, I would wake up, have my bath and attend lectures. I usually
go to the classroom in the morning. Sometimes, I would attend a lecture
at 8am till about 4pm. Then I would return to my hostel to have some
rest and attend to other things or proceed on call. Sometimes I would
stay on call till the following day. Basically my daily routine was like
Did you have time for leisure?
Of course, I had. But, weekends were very important to me. I spent most
weekends studying. The higher I went in medical school, the more time I
created to read my studies.
Didn’t you attend parties at weekends?
No. I never had time for parties. That wasn’t my idea of leisure. I just
went out with my friends to eat and then, we would have fun during the
day before returning to the hostel.
What kind of fun?
We went out to eateries to have lunch, take pictures and so on. We didn’t go to clubs or drink alcoholic beverages.
What kind of friends did you keep at school?
I had just a few friends in the university. They were all purpose-driven people who knew where they were heading to.
What kind of relationship did you have with your parents?
My parents have been very supportive from day one, especially my mum.
She keeps me going all the time. My siblings have been very
understanding, too. They accepted me the way I am and kept encouraging
me all the while.
Do you have a boyfriend?
Yes. I have a boyfriend, but I never allowed him to come between me and
my studies. He does not live in Ile-Ife. So he visits me in school
sometimes. Most of the time, we communicate to each other via the
Why did you choose to study medicine?
I had always known that I would be a doctor. I actually got admission to
study Botany in my first year at OAU. That was in 2010. But then, I
knew that I wasn’t going to end up being a botanist. I knew I was going
to be a doctor. So I sat another UTME and here I am today.
Did you plan to graduate with distinction?
I did not set out to graduate with distinction in the university. I just
think that I tried to strive for perfection. Although it is good to
have goals because they keep you going, who you are really matters a
lot. Then there is the God factor. I still believe that the grace of God
has a lot to do with my achievement.
How would you describe your experience in medical school?
Medical school is not for just anybody. If you have a daughter that
wants to study medicine, you have to make her think seriously about her
ambition. You have to ask her if she really wants to be a doctor. You
have to count the costs before she goes ahead to study medicine.
Initially, I was excited about being in Medical school. In Part Two, I
started reading big books. Then I started getting used to the language
of Anatomy, Medical bio-chemistry and more. With time, I got used to it.
To keep going, even as some people were being withdrawn from medical
school, I just had to hold my head high. For someone like me that was
getting many distinctions, keeping up with the success story was tough.
But I didn’t expect that my efforts would result in such huge success. I
only wanted to try my best and do everything possible in my power to
get things done.
What are your plans for the future?
I don’t want to comment on my plan for the future, but I am working on it.