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Aarinola Olaiya; the Nigerian Student Who Broke a 28-Year-Old Record in Medicine Graduates with 12 Distinctions

Aarinola Olaiya recently joined an elite list of young scholars around the world who have earned incredible feats in academics.

The native of Usin Ekiti of Ekiti State in Nigeria, broke a record last year by being the first student in 28 years to have a Distinction in Surgery at the Faculty of Clinical Sciences, at a major Nigerian university – Obafemi Awolowo University, in Ife, Osun.

Born into relative wealth, her father was a lawyer and her mother, a head teacher. Hence, life while growing up was not that tough for Olaiya and all that was expected of her was to work hard towards success.

In 2011, she gained admission into Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) to study medicine and surgery. With hard work and sacrifice, she scored a Cumulative Grade Point (CGPA) of 4.74 in her first year. In her second year, she scored a distinction in anatomy, medical biochemistry and physiology.

The third year saw the young genius scoring distinction in medical biochemistry and pharmacology, and in the fourth year – distinction in pathology and pharmacology.

In the fifth year, she had already been noted for breaking the educational status quo, as she had a distinction in obstetrics and gynaecology, mental health and dermatology, and in the sixth year – distinction in surgery.

Due to this feat, that is, distinction in 11 courses, Olaiya achieved a feat in medicine and community health that was last recorded about 28 years ago at her university.

Praises started pouring in for the 24-year-old prodigy who subsequently described her achievement as just a coincidence and a privilege.

“I must say that it is absolutely wonderful to be opportune to have achieved this level of success throughout all my years of academics. In fact, breaking the 28 years record was just a coincidence and a privilege because I never set out to break any record. I was just preoccupied with doing what I felt was expected of me & every other thing fell in line.

“Early in life, I have always had this drive to be great. There has always been a part of me with this yearning to be impactful wherever I find myself. I sincerely believe there is a spirit of excellence at work in me. Also, I have always been thorough and dedicated to my academic pursuits, always putting in my very best at every stage of my life. I pride myself as a focused, goal – oriented young individual,” Olaiya told Sunday Vanguard in an interview.

She further indicated that she did not “do any magic” while in medical school, except she just “loves to get better day by day”.

“I strive to beat my former achievements constantly and, for me, mediocrity is not an option. I can really be meticulous and serious with my studies. The encouragement I received from my parents, my siblings and teachers went a long way in encouraging me to always be better…”

From her basic school days at Peace and Joy Model School between 1998 and 2003 at Ikere-Ekiti, Olaiya did not joke with her studies and she eventually won her first scholarship in primary four as the best student among her mates.

She left the primary school as the best pupil in 2003 and then headed to the Federal Government Girls’ College, Efon-Alaaye Ekiti where she had her secondary education and completed in 2009.

“I was appointed the Assistant Head Girl in my final year and carted away 22 prizes on our graduation day. I was also given the award of the most versatile student by my then school Principal,” the educational genius said.

Last week, the record-breaking student emerged as the best graduating school from the Obafemi Awolowo University and following her academic excellence, she was honoured by the governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi.

Governor Fayemi, who attended the university’s 43rd convocation, commended Olaiya for her hard work and excellence and promised to support her in her future academic pursuits.

“I want to pledge before this august audience and the council, though she hasn’t told me what she wants to do, but whatever she tells me, she can consider it done. If she wants to go into housemanship, residency or even a PhD in Medicine, we will support her. It is very important to us that we restore the values for which we are known in Ekiti. We are not a state of stomach infrastructure,” the governor said.

Olaiya’s accomplishment comes on the back of similar prodigies whose jobs are to break the educational status quo.

In 2006, Nkemehule Karl Omebere-Iyari, a Nigerian, received his PhD in chemical engineering from University of Nottingham, UK, when he was 22. An old student of Kings College, Lagos, Omebere-Iyari had 8 As in his WAEC result at age 16. He emerged the best graduating student in chemical engineering that year.

Zimbabwean scholar, Musawenkosi Saurombe also made headlines in 2017 when she graduated with a PhD in Industrial Psychology from South Africa’s North-West University (NWU).

For Maths genius, Olaoluwa Hallowed Oluwadara, he became a doctor of Mathematics at the age of 24, with a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 5. The Ekiti State indigene born in Bangui, Central African Republic (CAR) graduated from the University of Lagos as the Best Graduating PhD holder.

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