Fatima Dashe, who graduated with first class honours in Accounting, with a Cumulative Grade Point Average of 5.0, and emerged as the overall best-graduating student at Covenant University, she speaks about her academic journey
Did graduating with a CGPA of 5.0 come to you as a surprise?
Well, I wouldn’t say it was a complete surprise as I had seen my CGPA from previous semesters. I intentionally worked hard for it, I was hopeful and I had faith in God that I would actually pull it off. So, no, it was not really a surprise.
How did your family receive the news?h
My parents are my best support and motivation and every single day of my life, they always tell me how much they love me and how proud of me they are. When they heard about my results, they were very elated, so they showered me with so much love and prayed for me. I remember the way their faces lit up; it was so amazing. Just the thought of it makes me so happy and I hope to keep making them proud.
Did you have similar results in the primary and secondary schools?
I was privileged to attend some of the best primary and secondary schools in Plateau State, which are Fatima Private School, Jos, and Baptist High School Jos, respectively. Those schools inculcated so many good values in me and I have to admit that a lot of the things that I have learnt in my life are from those schools. I had a good foundation, so yes, they contributed to my excellent academic achievements today.
What kind of company did you have and did the sacrifices you made to excel affect your relationship with people around you?
I am very particular about my family and friends because they are the most important people in my life. I didn’t want to be so focused on my books that I would ignore them, so I tried my best to find a balance. However, this is only possible when you have the right set of friends, who have similar goals or mindsets as you do. Luckily for me, I had very wonderful friends who were also serious about what they wanted to do in life and friends who were very supportive and understanding. We tried our best to study together and at times when we couldn’t do that, we always supported each other when we needed one thing or the other. I never really had the kind of friend that would ask me to go out for social activities when we had tests or exams coming up. This way, it was easier for all of us to focus and grow together. At the same time, we also made out time to play, catch up and have fun. But when it was time to be serious, we all focused. Proper time management helped me to set out adequate time for the things that I consider important.
As an Accounting student, how did you study? Did you attend ‘night’ classes or have a personal study timetable?
We don’t usually have night classes at Covenant University, but I tried my best to attend weekend tutorials or extra classes that my course mates and I scheduled to teach ourselves and learn from one another. I had a very flexible study plan. I didn’t have a fixed study plan but I had daily plans and I made sure that my plans were flexible enough to accommodate necessary changes, and at the same time, I tried to ensure that I achieved my daily plans and even went beyond on some days.
I enjoyed studying Accounting, so I cannot really remember any course that I would say was particularly the toughest. I had bulky courses and demanding courses but I can’t really flag any as the hardest. Whenever I struggled with particular concepts or aspects, I met my lecturers or my course mates, who had a better understanding of them. There were also a lot of times when I had to source materials and other resources myself to broaden my understanding.
You mentioned earlier that you avoided unnecessary social activities. Can you shed some light on that?
I did not attend every social activity, but I tried to attend a couple of them. I just ensured that none of them interfered with my studies or other things that I considered to be of high priority. Well, I did not attend any parties, but I was very much involved in departmental activities. I was one of the executive members of the Nigerian Universities Accounting Students Association, CU chapter, so I was definitely involved in the planning and execution of several departmental activities. I tried to also be a role model to those who were coming after me. I wanted them to know that it’s good to take their studies very seriously but also good to make sure that other areas of their lives do not suffer unnecessarily.
Were there major challenges you faced as an undergraduate?
There were a couple of things that tried to get in the way but thankfully none of those things succeeded. The first thing for me was feeling homesick. I was always very close to my family, so being away from them was not really easy for me but I found my way around it. Of course, there were several kinds of influences around that wanted to ‘tempt’ me: social media, bad company, too much leisure, etc. But I always reminded myself about my goals and plans for my life and I always told myself that I would regret doing those things if they distorted my goals and plans. So, I was very intentional about avoiding them. I always tell myself, “Do not start what you cannot finish.”
What was your toughest moment as an undergraduate?
My toughest moment in university was my first semester in 300 Level. At the time, I was preparing for my school examinations, and I was also preparing for the final stage of my Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria exams. I was so scared. Exactly four days after my school exams, I was to take all five courses at the final professional stage of ICAN. I was terrified, I doubted myself and I doubted the possibility of making it through. I was so scared that either my school exams or my ICAN exams would suffer. I didn’t take any tutorials for my ICAN exams, so I had to study on my own.
I remember calling my parents and telling them that I could not do it. I planned to postpone my ICAN exams because I did not want to fail and then waste the resources that had been put in to ensure I took the exams. My dad encouraged me and told me that he had so much faith in me. Today, when I remember those words, I feel so motivated to do anything that I set out to do. The love and support from my family are unmatched and I am so grateful for my family because I don’t know where I would be today without them. After that, I was encouraged. I made a lot of sacrifices and put in so much effort and at the end of it all, I had all A’s in my school exams and I passed all the courses in the ICAN exams.
Were there times people accused you of aiming for ‘perfection’ as an undergraduate?
No, I did not really have any such experience.
What were the university, faculty, and departmental prizes you won?
Some of the awards I got included prizes for the best graduating student in the Department of Accounting, best graduating student in the College of Management and Social Sciences, and overall best graduating student in the entire university.
Do you have any interest in any of the specialised areas in Accounting? Why and how will Nigerian society benefit from it?
There were so many areas of Accounting that captured my interest during my studies. The most captivating part for me is taxation. Taxation is a very prevalent topic, especially in our country, Nigeria. I believe that the contributions I will make to this area in conjunction with several tax professionals in the country will help to improve our tax policies and tax administration.
Do you have mentors who have influenced you positively?
My parents, siblings, and lecturers are my mentors and I have learnt so much from them. They have encouraged and advised me in so many ways, they have also been amazing role models and there is still so much that I can learn from them.
What are your aspirations as a young accounting graduate?
I plan to earn a master’s degree after my youth service, and I plan to get so many other professional certifications like the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and Chartered Financial Analyst programmes, among others.
I aspire to work with a renowned global firm that is involved in creating sustainable changes in the world. I am very hopeful about my future because I know that I have a very large role to play in this world. At the end of the day, all I want to do is help as many people as I can, using my skills and knowledge. I know that I have a very bright future and by the grace of God, I will be great.