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Adelani Temiloluwa
School Of Nursing Ondo
Nursing Student
300Level, Nigeria.
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Despite losing his parents in the space of three months and few months to his graduation, 21-year-old Bomanaziba Jim-Ogbolo Partner still graduated with a first-class degree from Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State. He scored 4.67 CGPA from the Department of Computer Engineering. In this interview with TUNDE AJAJA, he speaks on his academic journey and being an orphan

Not everyone in your class graduated with a first-class degree, would you say you did some things differently from others?

(Laughs) I’m not sure I did what any other student couldn’t have done. That’s why I would tie my excellence to God. To Him alone be all the glory. Even though we all didn’t graduate with a first-class degree, I believe we are all unique in our different ways. However, one thing I did that was instructive was to identify what worked for me early enough. And this helped me to work more efficiently. I started having first-class grades in the second semester of my first year and it was really exciting for me because I worked really hard. Seeing the result was really encouraging, but the following semester, I got carried away and that really affected my result. Afterwards, I doubled my efforts and things got better, to the glory of God.

Have you always wanted to be a computer engineer or you had other plans when you were growing up?

Choosing a course was initially difficult for me. As a child, I always wanted to be a medical doctor, but when I was a teenager, I started seeing things differently. I eventually moved to the technical class in senior secondary school but had computer science in mind. I developed an interest in computer science when I was about eight and my mum got our first desktop computer. Playing with it was really fascinating. My late dad was an electrical engineer, likewise my elder sister, while my elder brother and sister are computer scientists. So, I thought that instead of settling for either of those choices, why not merge the two. That was how I settled for Computer Engineering.

For the sake of students who don’t really know the difference between Computer Science and Computer Engineering, could you share what your own course entails?

Computer engineering is a blend of electronics engineering and computer science. It entails the design, construction, implementation and most importantly maintenance of software and hardware systems. Computer engineering, as a course, exposes you to the practical understanding of the computer as a system, but it goes beyond the mere personal computers we are used to. They would also learn about various concepts and topics like microcontrollers and microprocessors, electronics engineering, which covers topics like circuit theory, embedded systems, digital and analogue electronics, foundation of robotics, even power systems, etc., and of course computer programming, which is not just about high level languages but low level language/assembly language as well. In this course, one should be ready to apply mathematics and critical thinking to solve problems. So, as computer science deals with the theoretical foundations and principles of computation, programming, operating systems, algorithms, numerical methods and analysis; topics basically aimed at exposing you to how the computer works in terms of data manipulation and storage and how it solves problems etc., computer engineering deals with applying these set principles – from the field of computer science and electronics engineering – to create innovation and technology. Computer science students are grounded in topics relating to programming.

Since you got the course you really wanted, was it easier for you to graduate with a first-class degree?

I wouldn’t directly rate how easy or how difficult it was for me but I would say it was a mix of both. I believe if the foundation for success, like an enabling environment, the right frame of mind and adequate support in form of people and finances, are already in place, then all that is needed is consistency and ‘smart’ work.

I would say all those ingredients were made easily available for me and all I had to do was to give my best. In addition, I had easy access to a lot of study aids, like the Internet, textbooks and other study materials. In the end, I’m grateful for the process and more importantly, the outcome.

What was your journey like before you got into Covenant University?

Before I gained admission into Covenant University, I was at the University of Port Harcourt for a brief period of six months, and to be honest, based on what I experienced there, I had already set my mind on getting a first-class degree. On getting to CU, I got a lot of positive messages and words of encouragement from the staff members. During our 100 level orientation programme, I remember our chaplain, the Dean of Student Affairs and our Registrar told us that it was very possible to graduate with a first-class degree. Many times, it was a prayer point during our chapel services and sometimes our chaplain would encourage us to do our best. This really changed my perspective and it motivated me to work harder. Meanwhile, before I got into the university, I had brilliant performances but the West African Senior School Certificate Examination didn’t come quite easy. I didn’t have any ‘A’ in WASSCE and in the one organised by the National Examination Council, I had C in all of my papers. Due to my poor performance in the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination, I had a delay in securing admission so I took the exam again and opted for Basic Studies at UNIPORT in the interim until I secured admission at CU for the course I really wanted. Overall, my performance got better in the university because I was deliberate about it and God helped me. I met a lot of smarter people but I remained determined. I would say one of my biggest motivations was the cost of my tuition and seeing my parents invest a lot in giving me the best of education. That compelled me to give my best. Apart from these, I really wanted to make my father proud and that I am sure I have done, even in his grave.

How would you have felt if you hadn’t graduated with a first-class degree?

I would have felt bad. Apart from being hard-working, I always told myself that ‘Boma, you are intelligent and you have a whole lot to offer to this world’. I was really sure of my capabilities.

We heard you lost your parents in the space of a few months, could you tell us about it?

I lost my mother on September 7, 2018, and my father on November 19, 2018. They both battled against cancer before their sad and painful demise.

How did you survive through school after their demise?

I was not told about their demise until the end of the semester (500 level, first semester) but somehow I felt something had happened. My industrial training defence was on September 10, 2018, and prior to that, I had cried about my mum because I felt something was wrong. When I was told, the news really affected me and I couldn’t work on my final year project for three months because I was disoriented by the happenings. In my final semester, I had to resume school three weeks after the resumption date and this affected my attendance and even put more pressure on me to work harder; that semester, I had a 5.00 GPA.

Did you face any challenge (like financial) as an undergraduate?

No, I was blessed to have the most supportive parents who ensured I had all my needs met. Even before my father died, he ensured that some funds were reserved for me and my younger sister’s education and for this, I am really grateful to him. I wish to use this medium to thank them for giving me a solid foundation to stand on, I am grateful to them and I miss them a lot. One memory I still hold dear till date is the love my dad showed me when I was a child. He would carry me and rub his forehead against mine and say he was transferring his brain to me so I could be very intelligent too (laughs). He did this till I was 12 and I must say that his faith in me really helped me.

Did you win any scholarship or award throughout?

Yes, I was privileged to be an AGIP undergraduate scholarship awardee but unfortunately, I did not receive any grant till date.

Would you say you were sociable?

Yes, I was involved in a lot of social activities. Aside from books, I served in various non-academic roles. I was privileged to serve as Public Relations Officer for the Covenant University Contemporary Choir; I served as a volunteer in the Convocation Planning Committee and a member of the Roberts Charity Foundation. I participated in the university’s social events like the trade fair, variety nights, final year jamboree, Redefinition Fashion Show and dance concert. I have very good planning skills and I channelled them into planning events and gatherings for friends, both in and out of school.

What are your aspirations?

I am really passionate about control and automation, so I would love to take it as a career path. I consider myself a polymath as I’m interested in a lot of things. Presently, I’m taking an online course in Machine Learning from Stanford University via an online platform and also taking web design classes in Ikeja, Lagos. I hope to bring innovation into the field of control and automation by merging machine learning with it. I plan to further my studies by getting master’s and PhD degrees so I’m really searching for scholarship opportunities. I plan to be an academic and researcher at a reputable university. This is something I consider as my true passion. However, due to the training I’m currently having, I have not been active on the job hunt but subsequently, during the mandatory National Youth Service Corps programme, I would love to intern in an electronics or an IT firm. I would really love to work for Schneider Electric because I believe I would gain relevant exposure in the field of control engineering. I am fascinated by Google technologies and pursuing a career at Google as a machine learning engineer would be great. However, I am open to any opportunity that will provide me with a platform for growth. I believe we can always achieve anything we plan to.

Do you believe in having mentors?

Yes, I believe in having mentors. Currently, I don’t have a ‘one-on-one’ mentor, but I pay attention and follow the steps of Pastor Oladipo Aina, a wonderful individual. His family has been very supportive. Their home has been a real home for me and this I do not take for granted. May God bless him and his family, I love him.

From your experience, what are the basic things that students who are desirous of success should do?

There should be proper time management, they should get their priorities right, be ready to learn from anyone and not consider themselves too big to be taught. Then they should set goals. Like my spiritual father, Bishop David Oyedepo, would say, “Living without a goal is living like a goat” and “if you do not know where you are going to, everywhere will look like it”. Set goals and define your boundaries. I found that some students fail because they don’t like their course; some are in school because it seems like the norm and so they become disinterested. They procrastinate and are nonchalant about their studies. They keep bad company, depend on lecture notes and do not know what works for them. I believe these issues can be addressed with the points I mentioned earlier.

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