BY OLADIMEJI RAMON
First-class graduates are not an everyday item. A Law student who makes first-class honours in the university and repeats the same feat at the Nigerian Law School is clearly a rarer item. This is the story of Blessing Adeagbo, the author of ‘If You Want To Stand Out’ recently published by Tractist Press Limited.
Adeagbo’s intention was not to present herself to us as a superhuman in ‘If You Want to Stand Out’, but rather to show us that someone, just like us, through dint of hard work and determination, can achieve something extraordinary. This, essentially, makes ‘If You Want to Stand Out’ a valuable book.
If You Want To Stand Out, is a memoir and also reads like an instruction book. It outlines the practical steps, with vivid details, that just anyone who aspires to academic excellence or any other kind of excellence in life can take to arrive at their destination.
It is a rousing and powerful book that stirs the giant in the reader to action. It is an honest and straightforward account of Adeagbo’s journey from senior secondary school through her undergraduate years at the University of Ibadan, to the Nigerian Law School where she graduated with first-class honours.
The book also merits its description as a chronicle; the plot is an inspiring story of a girl who rose from grass to grace, from the rural Nigerian community of Igbojaye, Oyo State, Nigeria, to the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, where she’s currently studying for a master’s degree in Law. The telling of the story is simple and elegant.
The book opens with a glimpse into Adeagbo’s humble background as the firstborn of a hard-working family of five. Both her parents are clergy living on low income and depending on God’s faithfulness.
The family lived in a crowded tenement house of eight rooms—a row of four rooms directly facing another row of four rooms across a narrow passage— a face-me-I-face-you house, in Nigerian parlance. It was an unhealthy and noisy environment, unsuitable for studying.
“For years, the house didn’t have a proper bathroom. Children were bathed in the open air in front of the house, while adults went within a makeshift structure built also in the front of the house to have a bath,” Adeagbo describes her humble childhood.
But rather than give excuses, Adeagbo made the best of a challenging situation. ‘If You Want to Stand Out’ reveals the strategies she used, which anyone else, confronted with similar challenges, can learn from.
The reading is smooth and racy. It is an engaging book that speaks directly to the reader. The reading gives the feeling that one is in a classroom with the author as an instructor. You can hear the author’s convincing tone to do what is right. You can feel the author’s passion to help others.
The memoir appeals to the readership of different demography and age groups. Senior secondary school students, admission seekers, undergraduates, and students in the Nigerian Law School will, particularly, find ‘If You Want to Stand Out’ relatable. Personal development enthusiasts will also find the book engaging and inspiring.
For secondary school students, Adeagbo, in ‘If You Want to Stand Out’, demonstrates that the journey to a remarkable university experience begins with and is shaped by the outcome of the final-year examinations, in this case, the West African Senior School Certificate Examination.
The book prepares senior secondary school students for what to expect on the university admission-seeking journey. They will find the book an asset and an exposition on what university life has in stock and how to prepare for it.
With a book like ‘If You Want to Stand Out’ on offer, JAMBITES going into the university will no longer have to take a leap in the dark. Adeagbo’s ‘If You Want to Stand Out’ is a compendium of tidbits that admission seekers need from those who have been there and done it. It is also a great asset for students entering 100 Level or those in their first year in the university.
While reading ‘If You Want to Stand Out’, I wished I had a book like that in my admission-seeking days or first year in the university to prepare me for what was ahead.
‘If You Want to Stand Out’ also offers undergraduates at different levels instructions on how to make the university experience count. The author shows and warns us of the landmines ahead and how to sidestep them. She shows us the mistakes she made, so we can learn from her example and avoid the same. But then, she also shows us exciting things about university life to look forward to. Law graduates proceeding to Law School will find the author’s instructions helpful.
‘If You Want to Stand Out’ merits its description as a tell-all account. Adeagbo’s grass-to-grace story of a child, raised in a poor home but rose through hard work and God’s help to gain admission to a master’s programme in the United Kingdom’s most prestigious university compels the reader to be the best version of themselves. Hers is a motivational book that demonstrates the power of vision. It also demonstrates doggedness and rejection of the verdict of naysayers.
Parents generally will be inspired by Adeagbo’s chronicles. They will find out how much power and influence they have to determine the outcome of their children’s success. The book demonstrates the power of parental influence. Adeagbo’s parents didn’t have enough money, even to feed, at some points, but education was not negotiable.
In the book, we admire Adeagbo’s father’s commitment to his children’s education, despite his busy schedule as a clergyman. He never failed to look through his children’s books as well as interrogate their report sheets, giving honest and constructive feedback. The mother, like the father, was a prayer warrior, who stood in the spiritual gap for her children. It is remarkable that she made it a duty to be praying whenever Adeagbo was in the exam hall. She supported her daughter’s efforts with prayers, sometimes month-long prayers with fasting. What an amazing asset!
It is also remarkable to note that Adeagbo’s “first class” journey gained momentum when the mum sowed the seed in her heart. It is a good example of the law of expectation at work; buttressing the fact that if you continue to expect good results from your children, and continually motivate them, they will achieve their goals.
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