By Israel Arogbonlo
She is an active church person, enjoys dancing, likes meeting people and plays the piano. Yet, 29-year-old Olabimpe Olayinka is an academic genius.
She was the best graduating student from the University of Ibadan Faculty of pharmacy in 2016
She had earlier been admitted to study Microbiology at the Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Ago-Iwoye, Nigeria.
But her strong desire to study Pharmacy made her retake the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination that eventually made her secure admission to the University of Ibadan for her dream course.
Suffered from Impostor syndrome
But the first few months at U.I were not palatable. She recalled struggling with what she termed Impostor Syndrome (IS) in her first year at the Ibadan Varsity. “I felt I wasn’t good enough to be at the University of Ibadan, because then, I used to see UI students as “mini-gods” with amazing academic pedigrees. I did put in my best though because I wouldn’t want to be sent back home or taken to another department in what is known on the campus as “tsunami” or “erosion”.”
She however became more confident when she made a 6.4 out of 7.0 GPA in her 100 Level. That threw her up in the academic community. Students who had issues with their studies gravitated towards her and she did not turn them down.
“I began teaching students that had challenges with their studies till I graduated. In retrospect, I’d say this volunteer teaching experience was invaluable in sustaining my intellectual prowess throughout University,” she said.
She turned out to be the Best Graduating Pharmacy Student in her set with a cumulative grade point average CGPA of 6.6. The University rewarded her academic feat with a Master’s degree scholarship which she completed some months behind schedule in February 2021 due to the covid-19 impasse
Topped U.I master’s class
She however became the overall best graduating Master’s student at the University with a perfect Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 7.0/7.0. Although three students in the university had a CGPA of 7.0, she had the highest average of 81.72.
She recalled that the foundation for excellence was laid when she was in secondary school. “Some university students came to our school fellowship and preached to us that we could have excellent results if we study hard and trust in God. They had brilliant results and they claimed it was genuine. I decided to give it a trial. I was determined to have a good WAEC result at a sitting without cheating.
“That was it! I became very serious, I started studying night and day, at a point my parents even got worried and started begging me to stop reading. To crown it all, we had a very dedicated Chemistry teacher, Mr. Okuneye (aka 50cents) was always going the extra mile for us, even to the extent of teaching us on weekends (though the school didn’t usually agree with him).
No flings while in school
“He would often tell us about the industrial application of what we were learning because he studied industrial chemistry, he opened our eyes to possibilities. To the glory of God, I made all my papers in WAEC at a sitting. That was my stepping stone.”
While some of her friends were involved in amoral relationships, she was focused on her studies primarily because of her determination to excel. One of the boys who had the courage to approach her with a letter for a fling relationship was disappointed as his request was turned down.
But then she confessed her love for music, dancing, and writing. She socializes mostly in the Church, school fellowships, library, and engages in volunteer activities. She was in the choir; “I also served as the associate organist in my church. I enjoy spending time with my friends, getting to know why people do what they do, and trying to understand why people act in a certain way.” she averred.
Passionate about pharmacy
Now, Olayinka is so much into her profession. She is also a researcher and educator. “I’m interested in drug discovery and cancer research. I have over three years experience as a Clinical Pharmacist working at the University College Hospital, University of Benin Teaching Hospital, and some community pharmacies.”
She also served as a graduate assistant at the Department of Pharmacognosy, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Ibadan. She is presently a research assistant at the Phytomedicine Research Laboratory, University of Ibadan, chaired by Dr. Omonike Ogbole. Her research work focuses on drug discovery from natural products for cancer treatment.
She is also the convener of The Polished Pillars, a group focused on mentoring younger students on academic excellence and career advancement. Aside from work, she participates in church activities, enjoys meeting new people, dancing and playing the piano. “You can always find me in a learning and joyful space,” she said.
The burden for cancer patients
She has a lot of burden for cancer patients and has devoted her career to finding treatment for the disease. Having lost a few acquaintances to cancer, she vows to continue to research into how help can reach victims.
On her life’s philosophy she says, “I believe my life is not my own, I belong to God. I consider my decisions critically, pray and seek counsel before deciding. I am never in a hurry, I give my best to whatever I am doing. In the end, if I am pleased with the outcome, I give glory to God, if it turns out otherwise, I learn from it and keep going.”
She pleads with young people to discover their gifts early. “Also know that it would take time, hard work, prayer and other people’s help to turn your gifts to gold. Don’t cheat, rather help others succeed. Don’t ever let your story end in failure or defeat. Above all, put your trust in God.”
Olayinka has been involved in research, personal development, and community service. She participated in the 2021 cohort of the British Minigolf Association fellows programme whose brand manager is Miss Gbemisola Abudu
BMGA is a six-month intensive training on soft skills, career development, and mentorship. She went through the training successfully and she is now qualified as a BMGA Fellow.
Olayinka is also a member of the 25B book club. She volunteers at BNI- Building Nations initiative and the Roleaux Foundation.
She says she is open to collaboration on scientific research bordering on drug discovery, cancer and natural products. “I would also love to engage in youth empowerment and community development programs,” she s said