Good Morning Lovelies, what’s gwan?
Welcome to another inspiring episode of the #UnheardStory Series. Today’s Unheard Story is an exclusive interview with the Vivacious, Fruitful and Fabulous E’, the beauty and brain behind the renowned University Of Coach E.
I felt pity for and cried at the beginning of FAB E’s #UnheardStory but at the end, I was so overwhelmed by the 360 degrees turn around of events and I couldn’t but marvel at the Grace of God on her life and her ability to navigate failure and become a huge source of inspiration to anyone who is termed a failure in any field. Her #Unheard Story is a bit lengthy but most certainly worth your read. It will inspire and encourage you to arise from whatever negative label you’ve been given because of any mistakes or failure you may have. Please seat back, read, learn and share your lessons in the comment box.
From Failure To Best Graduating Student In The Same School – Eziaha Bolaji-Olojo
“For your shame ye shall have double: and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion…” – Isaiah 61:7, KJV
My name is Eziaha Bolaji-Olojo, nee Ajaero. I spent 3 years trying to get into pharmacy school because I thought pharmacy was my dream – my mum is a pharmacist, we had an amazing pharmacy business going, so it was just a natural thing for me to want to study pharmacy. Also, as the last child, I felt I needed to study pharmacy because nobody else was studying it… Plus I was also very intelligent. Finally, after 3 years of trying to gain admission, I got into pharmacy school. In Unibadan (UI), where I schooled, everyone is in sciences in the first year but by second year, you branch off to your special fields. So first year, I excelled in all my courses. Got into Pharm School proper, a lot of people failed, about half the class failed but I made it through.
I’m naturally intelligent and academically sound but by second year I was struggling so much to cope with Pharm School. Classes seemed like a blur. I’d listen as attentively as I could yet I wouldn’t get anything. You know when it feels like you’re trying to till and plant on concrete, that’s how I felt. So second year, I managed to pass but I had some resits which I had to come back and write during the holidays. Finally, by a really small margin, I crossed into 300 level. But it got harder and harder. I realised that I was more interested in the social aspect of pharmacy than in the academic part, and you know pharmacy is a very serious course.
I remember the dean of Pharmacy calling me one day and saying, “I don’t think you should be here. I don’t think this is your calling. I think you should be somewhere else where your passion is. Maybe you can go to Theatre Arts or something. I really don’t think this course is for you.” And I was like “nooooo, I want to be a pharmacist and my parents want me to be here.”
Another lecturer, a professor who really loved me called me at some other time to say something similar. She said,”Eziaha, I don’t think this place is for you. I mean you wear blue hair in pharmacy school! I think you should follow whatever your heart wants you to follow, forget what your parents think.” I also remember her saying, “It’s better that when you realise you’re on the wrong path, no matter how far you’ve gone, turn back and retrace your steps. As opposed to staying on that path and going in the wrong direction”
And I still said “No, I’ll wing it. I’ll pass.” I felt I’m already in 300 level. I’ll give it my best and I’d be done, then I can do anything else. At least lemme get the degree for my parents.
So 300 level, the first shocker came and I repeated. The crazy thing was not just that I repeated but I was also ‘Miss Pharmacy’. ‘Miss Pharmacy’ was the very first pageantry organised in Pharmacy school and I had contested and won easily. In fact, every year in pharmacy school in UI, I won ‘Most Popular’. I also always won “Best Dressed non-Pharmaceutical Student” (meaning that I dress really well but I don’t dress like a pharmacist… Imagine, I’d wear red shoes to class with blue contacts and blue braids). I was very popular in school though many people found my lifestyle controversial because I was this crazy good Christian and I was also a very social person – that mix was causing a lot of controversy in school. People were asking, “Who’s this girl?” I mean she’s all over church and still all over school’s social activities… Back to my story, I won ‘Miss Pharmacy’, then the same year I repeated. You can imagine the embarrassment!
Frankly, I wasn’t ashamed per say. At first, I struggled with accepting that I had repeated so I was going to 400 level class but finally, I had to accept it. Had to tell myself “forget it, you’re repeating” so I went back to my 300 level class. And it was fine. I wasn’t ashamed. But I realised that it was so hard. You know when something is so hard. It was HARD!!! I would concentrate, I would do all night, I would go to people’s halls to teach me but I couldn’t understand pharmacy. It was hard. Everything was so hard. This goes to show that when you’re not in the will of God, everything is hard.
I still feel emotional when I think about how I put in so much effort but it never worked. Second time of doing 300 level and it was so hard. It didn’t look like I had done it before. Everything looked like Greek. Everything was hard (you need to emphasise this hard, it was so hard, hehehe).
Then the worst thing happens. It was two days into the New Year. I get a call from one of my lecturers who was also like my mum in school. And she says, “I have bad news. You’ve been asked to withdraw from pharmacy school.”
I’m like, “What?!!!” This was January 3, “you’ve been asked to withdraw…” It was a rude shock because at that point I had spent four years already in pharmacy school after waiting for like 3 years to get in. And now I was asked to withdraw and go back to 200 level in another department. The lecturer also called my parents (because she knew my parents) and told them. And then my parents beat the living daylight out of me. I’m saying belt, tables, sticks, chairs, anything my parents could lay hands on. They also took my phones, my beautiful dresses, they said the dresses were distracting me. They even threatened to cut my hair.
It’s not that my parents are mean or the likes but as a very promising child, they had real high hopes on me and I had disappointed them. They felt I had just been distracted by lots of activities so they were real pissed at me. And to add salt to injury, I had some friends, friends who I thought were friends who for some reasons best known to them decided to lie against me. According to them, I used to travel from school to follow men and I was sleeping around. Mehn, some crazy things (where do people concoct this kind of rubbish from?)
My parents increased my punishment and beat me up real good. They locked me in and prevented me from going out. I became a prisoner in our house. Before then, I used to go to a different church from my parents’ but they stopped me from going there and compelled me to go to theirs. I was literally locked in at home and beat at every lil’ opportunity so I used to cry a lot. Oh Gosh! I still think about how I felt then because it was like an out of body experience. It was really a terrible time in my life.
School was going to resume soon and I had to go back and find a new department to go to. I kept telling my parents I needed to go back to school but they said no, “you’ll never amount to anything in your life again.” “You are so useless” “You don’t even deserve to go to school, you have wasted your life.” Part of their reason and dream was that I should change to a different school entirely and continue Pharmacy there. But at this point I was done living anyone’s dream. I was trying to do my own thing no matter how hard it was. So it was a lot of friction at home. But finally, they let me out and I went back to school.
I was so happy to finally leave the house but when I got back to school, the real reality of things dawned on me. I used to be a very confident person but this time, it was shameful and I felt really ashamed. Gossip from different corners didn’t help. Because I’m a flashy and popular person, lots of people knew or heard gist about my failure… people were gossiping left, right and centre. Some said, “look at this girl, she wins ‘Miss Popular’ every time, she carries God on her head, she’s repeated, now she has failed out of pharmacy school and she’s hanging.” And some were like, “good for her, now she will tone down”.
I tried to put up a bold face and started looking for another department. Of course, the options when you fail out of pharmacy or medicine are biochemistry, microbiology, zoology and the likes in the sciences. But I knew I was done. I knew I was not doing sciences again if it killed me. But then, I was a pure science student so finding a new course outside the sciences was tough.
I checked for Communication and Language Arts (known as Mass Communication in some other schools) but I couldn’t do it because I didn’t have Literature in my O’levels. I couldn’t also do any other courses I wanted in the Arts because of that. I went to meet a lot of people to see if they could help make a way for me because at this point, I was confused and desperate not to get into the sciences anymore. I was looking for any single way that I could enter into the Arts even though I was a Physics, Chemistry and Biology person and not an arts student. I met people like the Dean of Student Affairs, the deputy Vice Chancellor, the overall person in charge of Registrations (can’t remember the name for that office) and some other top people I felt had power and influence in school. But none could help.
Then, I heard a particular word from God. He told me, “For your shame I will give you double honour, in the same place.”
“For your shame ye shall have double: and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion…” – Isaiah 61:7, KJV
I didn’t understand it then, I was like “what does this even mean? What kind of word is this?”
The Turning Point
All the doors I tried in the Arts were closed. I tried the Social Sciences too and they were all closed too because I didn’t have Literature, Economics or any other subjects required for the Social Sciences. Then I went to Education. The only course that looked okay to me was Library Science. I felt since I liked to read and I could write, let’s shaa do Library Science. So I filled the application form for Library Science but when I went to submit the form, the woman in charge was not on seat so I was asked to come back later. I went out with my form and I went to look for what to eat. While I was there, an unsaved number called me, I picked and it happens that the person is from pharmacy school with good news. He said the overall person in charge of Registrations, (one of the people I had gone to meet to help me get into the Arts or Social Sciences) had called pharmacy school because he just realised that there was a way through which I could get into the Social Sciences and he just remembered that there was this girl who was so desperate to move… He didn’t have my number so he called pharmacy school and told them. Pharm School of course has my number so they in turn called me and now said I should go and meet him.
Gosh! I was so happy! I went to meet him and he explained that I could go to Sociology. He said that there’s this clause that states one could get into Sociology easily from Pure Sciences without drama; nobody seemed to have seen it before. I preferred going for Psychology but there was something again I didn’t have so Sociology was the only open course. I felt like God closed every other option and opened Sociology for me. I didn’t even know what Sociology meant at the time… but I was very happy for the open option. This was a turning point for me. Imagine if I had submitted the library science form then, I would have gone home. Who knows if I would have picked my call, maybe I would have not picked the call. But see how God made me not to submit that form and opened this door for me.
And I really enjoyed studying Sociology. It was so breezy, starting from the registration process. When I went to drop my form in the department, I thought it would take weeks for them to process it since nobody had come before. But I went on a Tuesday and by Thursday or Friday they called me – my form was signed and ready. I didn’t have History, Government, Economics or the likes but God made that way for me.
When classes started, the first contrast I realised between both courses (Pharmacy and Sociology) was that when I was in Pharm School, I looked forward to going for classes because of my friends. I was mostly going to school to gist with my friends because I was not understanding the classes anyways. But with Sociology, I looked forward to going to school to learn and not because of anybody to gist with. Plus I was literally older than a lot of people in my class so I wasn’t really looking for friends. Remember, I had already done 4 years in Pharmacy school. So while my mates were in 500level final year, I was doing 200 levels in Sociology… So I would go to class, not because I wanted to gist or something but because I loved what the lecturers were saying. I could understand my classes – it wasn’t like Greek. This time, it looked like my brain was working. I could understand things easily. I was like, “Wow! This is really what I’m supposed to be doing because everything was so easy.”
You know Chinyere, when you’re right bound in purpose, right bound in what God wants you to do, everything is easier. It’ll feel like you’re a fish in water going with the tide. You know when you’re not trying to swim against the tide, you’re just going with it. So you look like a real good swimmer but really it’s not that you so good at swimming, the tide is helping you… Everything is easier. It’s not like you don’t have to work anymore because I still had to study but it was just easier. Less struggle.
By the time the first semester results started coming out, I made mostly A’s. Studying became so easy and beautiful, apart from the fact that I was freaking broke a lot because my parents had cut short my allowance. Before this time, as the last child, everyone used to give me money but my parents ensured nobody gave me any money again. I had no extra money from anywhere. It was so bad that if I needed to get any extra thing, I had to lie about it. I’m not proud of it but that was the only way I could get some money for it… I don’t want to go into details of all the money things ‘cause it was really crazy at the time.
Back to my studies, I had really good results. By the time first semester was over and a lot more results were out, I did real well and I was very happy. People started coming to me for tutorials. I’d explain things to them and they’d understand. Everything in school was flowing really well. But things at home weren’t smooth. Sometimes, I had to avoid my dad’s calls because he would call me and start shouting and after the calls I’d be crying. It was just scary. Going home for holidays became a nightmare because my parents would shout at and beat me at every little opportunity. They kept making reference to my failure from Pharm School, like if I mistakenly break a cup they’d be like, “that’s why you failed out of pharmacy school.” So I just decided that I wasn’t going to go home again… My parents are really amazing people but they didn’t take my failure well because they had lots of hope in me taking over the family pharmacy business. And I now broke their heart.
After 200 level (that’s my first year in Sociology), when all results were released, I went to the department to check mine. In UI, first class starts from 6.0 but I made a 5.8 so I’m like that’s really good plus I wasn’t expecting a first class. Then I checked the breakdown of my results and noticed that they omitted one of my courses so I recalculated adding that course (I got an ‘A’ in the course) and whoop! I was in the first class. I remember I was with one of my friends and she screamed, “Eziaha you’re in the first class!” It took me some time for that to sink in. And when it did, I was like “Oh my God!” In my first year in this course I make a first class!
Of course the gist about it goes round and round. By the time I got into 300 level, I was still doing really well. But I got incredibly busier:
- I had got into school politics. I was Social Director in my department.
- I was doing tutorials not just for my mates but also for those in lower levels – 100 and 200 levels, because I really had the passion to help people do better in their academics.
- I was HOD of different units in church. I also used to do crazy evangelism. I was the kind of person that you don’t need to announce let’s go for evangelism, only me would go. So I used to bring in lots of first timers to church.
- I started a business and I was working somewhere else as well.
- I was also as a model. As in all these modelling jobs.
I was into a whole lot of things… in fact there was a time I got into Make Up so I would travel from school for some jobs. It was just incredible how busy I was those years.
300 level results came out and there was this elective course I borrowed from a different department that I got a 46 in. 46 is a ‘D’ which is a 2point so it really pulled my GPA down like crazy. So I moved from first class to a really good 2’1 but it wasn’t a first class anymore. Some of my lecturers that were close to me were so mad. No one had graduated with a first class in Sociology for a very long time so they were expectant that finally someone would make a first class again…
400 level came and I really did my best even though it was my busiest year. There was no encouragement from home ‘cos my parents didn’t believe in me anymore so I had to encourage myself by myself; told myself “I can’t fail again.”
I still had lots of activities that kept me incredibly busy – as Social Director, I hosted our very first “Miss Sociology”; students went to Ghana for an excursion for the very first time, under my tenure. I had gotten GLO to sponsor our “Miss Sociology” and I had gotten GTBANK to sponsor our Package, there’s this Package that we used to do. So you can imagine all those high level activities. I also worked with a lot of the Alumni to raise funds because I was planning an absolutely amazing final year dinner with the intention of breaking any kind of record the department had ever had.
I prayed to make a first class but I was also diligent in my academics. I’d do everything I needed to do during the day and then I’d come home, rest a bit and then go to the library and study all night. My routine was: come back at 6 or 7pm, sleep, wake up around 10,11pm and go to the library. I’d stay there and study till the next morning then come home at 5am and sleep till when it’s time to prepare for lectures. Mercifully, most of my lectures were from 9am. I lived such a planned life and knew what I was going to be doing at every hour. And if for some reason a lecturer cancels class, I wouldn’t just sit and be gisting. I’d find a way to invest that time into something worthwhile. I was very intentional about life (even though I didn’t know the term intentional back then). I didn’t have time for frivolities. If I wanted to go somewhere and lounge or gist or visit someone, it was all planned. I literally lived out of my diary and everybody knew me for that. If we plan a tutorial and you don’t show up, that’s it. I’m not going to reschedule you ‘cos my time was very important to me, still is. And those that knew me respected that.
So final year exams came and I gave it my best in terms of prayers and studying. I also used to have confessions all over my room – had them all over my walls, wardrobe, doors, everywhere. Different scriptures from the Bible and lots of other positive confessions. One of them was: “I’ll be the best graduating student and I’ll graduate with a first class.”
After final year exams and project defence, I went back home (my parents were not in Nigeria at the time). Then one day I get a call from one of my lecturers and he was like “Eziaha, you made it. You made a first class!”
My final year results were so good! I made a 6.6 out of 7.0 so it was so good it catapulted my CGPA back to a first class. I was soooo incredibly happy! I screamed, I shouted, I danced, I cried. I was super excited that I literally had an all-day joyful cry. Finally after everything, I made it! My parents were happy about the result too even though I knew they would have preferred pharmacy.
The most interesting part of all these was after I was done with school and was about to serve, Pharmacy school was having a lecture and they invited me to come and give a talk on “The tests, The trial and The triumph.” A talk on how one can navigate failure and all, using my story as a reference.
I was like how amazing is this God?!!! Then I remembered the word God gave me from Isaiah when I had failed from pharmacy school. I remember He told me “for your shame I’ll give you double honour in the same place.” So it all came together – in the same place, for the shame that I had, God has given me double honour.
In the same place meant in the same Pharmacy school were I failed out from and was shamed, I was asked to come back there and be a speaker. In the same place also meant in the same university, where I failed and was ridiculed in one course, I so excelled and came out as the best graduating student in the second course.
I didn’t go for my convocation because I was pregnant and was in Abuja at the time but my name was in the prospectus as the “Best Graduating Student” from my department and I won lots of other awards.
You know it just clicked now that this is really it. God was really involved! I remember now that in my final year project, I worked on the topic, “The Sociological Consequences of SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING” Is it not amazing that I am doing business with the social media today? Like God was in everything from the beginning because today, I use the Social Media to drive my businesses!!! God is so amazing!!!
That’s my Unheard Story. It really ended well. And one of the profound things is that God orchestrated it and put me in the right department – because of that, I could excel. Incidentally, everything that I learned in Sociology just prepared me for the kind of life that I have now – being able to combine various projects at the same time and be able to stay Fruitful on all fronts. Even how to use the Social Media to market a business was really what I learned in my Final year project.
Thanks a million FAB E for sharing your exclusive inspiring #UnheardStory with us. Felt very emotional at the beginning and at the end of this story. I had just one extra year in school which I wrote about here and I know how terrible I felt in that one year… So many lessons from FAB E’s #UnheardStory, the most profound for me being that:
- Failure in anything is not a fullstop, it’s just a comma. The most important thing is for you to get a Word from God about that situation
- All things work together for good, to them who love God and are called after His Purpose (Romans 8:28)
Your turn sweeties, what lessons did you pick from Fruitful and Fabulous E’s #Unheard story? Please share in the comment box.
Wishing y’all a most beautiful and Fruitful weekend.
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