Dr Kamal, as we fondly call him, is a pleasant young man, fun to be with and he is a great friend of the house. Kamal is extremely supportive of Bi Empowerment and constantly makes sacrifices to empower young people to be successful in their academics and in life in general.
We are grateful to have him in the house all the way from the Norway. Thank you Kamal for taking out time to share your story with us…
“Thank you very much for this opportunity.”
- “Can you tell us about yourself?”
“I like to be called Kamal’ but my full name is Kamal’deen Olakunle Omosanya. I am originally from Abeokuta. I had all my elementary studies in Abeokuta, BSc in Geology from Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, MSc in Structural Geology with geophysics from University of Leeds, and a PhD in Earth Science from Cardiff University. Obviously, by training, I am a geologist, but by calling, I am a teacher.”
- “When did you discover that you had a passion for teaching?”
“I found out as a student in Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), because I used to offer tutorials to my mates. I got my BSc in Geology but I was also offering tutorials in Mathematics and Computer Science to my fellows in the Mosque. Every year, I give tutorials on Math 101, 102 and sometimes CMP 201.”
- “We understand that you had a first class. Can you tell us how you were able to achieve that? Did you work hard at it or is it something that comes easily to you? We remember back in school, we had class mates who didn’t need to read, they just get into the exam hall and ace all their papers?”
“For me, I would rather say it’s divine, because I don’t think I can do anything without God. To be candid, I never thought from the first day I got to OOU that I was going to end up with a first class. Prior to that, I did a diploma in Computer Studies at Moshood Abiola Polytechnic and I was chosen as the class representative but my dad would say “I sent you to school; I didn’t send you to become a class representative”. So in my bid not to disappoint him, I studied very hard. For this I got a distinction and that was the turning point in my life. I said to myself, “If I can get a distinction then it means I can get anything I want if I pray and work hard”. So we can say God, hard work and determination.”
- “When did you decide or was it the thirst to further your education that made you go abroad? How exactly did it happen?”
“It’s a combination of aspiring to have quality education and also as a result of frustration. When I finished from OOU, I had the impression that I was going to get a good job so I submitted my CV to virtually all the big companies in Lagos. I did several assessment tests but I was never given a job. Along the line I met a man and he said to me “I think your calling is teaching, you should go back to the university”. Funny enough, I was offered the position of a Graduate Assistant before I left school, but I felt I should work in an oil company instead. Eventually I asked myself “Why should I be running helter skelter when I have a job waiting for me?” It was at that point that I went for the graduate assistant job. Along the line, as a result of the policy in Education that you have to keep improving and developing yourself, I enrolled myself at the University of Lagos to get a Masters in Applied Geophysics, which was a part-time program. While running this program, I applied for a scholarship; the Local Mobil Scholarship and I passed the test. It was during the interview that I was told that the scholarship was not meant for part-time MSc programs. That really frustrated me. My frustration got compounded the weekend after. I got to class and my professor dictated almost twelve pages of notes. I asked myself, “Why would I be writing twelve pages when I can just study textbooks?” So when I got home, I found a textbook and in it the 12 pages verbatim. It dawned on me that I was wasting my precious time; I wasn’t learn anything new and that I needed to find another way to acquire quality education. It was with that mindset that I began to apply to other places, Trinidad and Tobago, Saudi Arabia, China, Cyprus, United Kingdom, Canada, USA, Malaysia etc. The only place I didn’t apply to was India. I and a colleague of mine even applied to Sweden. They had a program they called ‘Studenra’, but we never scaled through the admission process. The frustration to get a quality education pushed me, and by God’s grace, I got it and I am happy I did.
- “Did you get a lot of offers that you had to pick from?”
“When I got the offer from the UK, at almost the same time, I got another from Saudi Arabia, but luckily enough, I wrote the Exxon Mobil scholarship exam and surprisingly, with the support of God, my parents and my wife I was given. I emphasized the support of my wife because at a point, when you try several things and do not get it, you need someone to support you. The popular saying, “For every successful man, there is a woman” is indeed true. It might be your mother or your wife, but for me, it was both of them and my dad, the third womanJ. On the morning of the test, I said to my wife “I am not going for this test oh, I am tired and I think I have tried my best”. She said to me “Just go and give it another shot”. I listened to her, went and when I got to the venue, they had already started the test. The manager asked me to wait for the next batch rather than join them midway but I wasn’t even interested in the first place. Therefore, I wrote the test, and to God be the glory, I was invited for the interview stage. I went for it, and honestly, all I said at that interview was off the line. When I got home, I told my wife again “Your boy don misbehave oh”, but she said “Don’t worry, God will do it”. Amazingly, God made a way and I was given the scholarship and I went to the UK for my MSc”.
- “Can you say that you are happy with where you are now?”
“I am very happy. I feel fulfilled because in the last eight years, I have produced very outstanding students all over the world, and that is a great achievement for me as a person.”
- “So where do you see yourself in the next ten years?”
“I actually do not like to plan for the future, because I believe it’s in the hands of God, but in the next ten years, I should be close to fifty so I would be looking at retirement and staying in the university full time.”
- “Apart from teaching, are there other things you do?”
“Yes, I am into consultancy and geo-prospecting”
- “Knowing that you are fulfilled, can you tell us about the challenges you faced in your pursuit of quality education and how you were able to pull through just to encourage young people?”
“I used to make an analogy for my PhD students that when you start a PhD, you have the impression that it is an open six-sided road that you can ply straight from one point to the other. But in reality, it’s a road that is full of several bumps and that goes with life as well. You think that life is going to be smooth, they say “Life is not a bed of roses” and that is the truth. You are going to have a lot of obstacles along the way, but I don’t see them as problems. I always see them as situations that you have to handle, and once they have been handled, it makes you a better person, and it takes you where you want to be. Just always remember the road to success is hardly ever a smooth trip. For example, I applied for numerous scholarships before I got one, and the same goes for my PhD. I think it is the same experience for so many of my students who have gotten scholarships as well. I have a student in Italy. He applied for over twenty scholarships before he got one. The story is the same for the guys in Denmark and Sweden. So, it is perseverance and having the right attitude i.e. remaining positive throughout the application.
- “I’m sure so many people will be inspired by this because the impression a lot of people have is that it’s only those who have rich parents that can get quality education.”
“Yes, we should just keep applying for scholarships. God first, be positive, be determined and keep trying. The funny thing about life is that friends and enemies will not know about the ones you did not get i.e. the rejections, but only the one you got. Never give up.”
- “Today, you came and spoke to us about opportunities in Scandinavian countries; can you please say a little more about it especially for our BIE readers who were not available to attend the training?”
“Like I said during the workshop, you can find about fifteen out of two hundred of the best Universities in the world in Scandinavian countries. Tuition is free and they have an excellent and very attractive lifestyle. They are always in the top ten in the global peace index of no crime, no corruption etc. Some of the happiest people in the world live in Scandinavian countries. Working in Scandinavian countries is very relaxing, interesting and fun.
- “What advice do you have for young people out there? Especially those aspiring to go into the academic sector as a profession?”
“I think very soon we are going to have a serious knowledge gap in Nigeria, because a lot of professors are retiring and we have few people taking up the academics. I understand that the sector is not so attractive in terms of money, but it’s a good place where one can thrive legitimately. Even though you have to go through hurdles, with faith in God, perseverance and consistency, I know you would get there.”
There we have it BIE readers, an inspiring story from Kamal Omosanya. Don’t give up, don’t get discouraged and doggedly pursue the acquisition of knowledge.