‘I discovered that many teenagers have nobody to guide them’
Morenike Vincent is a Chartered Accountant and External Auditor with Delloite. Also an author, she recently launched a book, Academic Excellence Devotional and explains her motive for writing the book in this interview
You recently launched your book Academic Excellence in Lagos. What is it all about?
It is the first devotional book to address the issue of youth and youth education. It is one book that is urgently needed in this country. Everybody is busy building a career and trying to make their businesses to do well, but a huge gap in the area of youth development is building up. That time will come when it becomes necessary to pass on the baton of leadership and we may discover that the generation that should take over has not been prepared enough. Academic Excellence Devotional is, therefore, conceived to meet that need. It is addressed at teenagers and young adults or anybody who writes examinations. The topics are woven around words from the scripture to motivate them, not just to do better at school, but to shine in all areas of life.
It is good for parents and teachers who want to motivate their children and wards to read it too.
We were at the launch and heard people like Beersheba Alogbo who said that she began to read her books and left Babcock University with a First Class degree and finished a Master’s at The London University with a Distinction; she said she took your example.Also some students who were at Obafemi Awolowo University with you confessed that what they wanted was just to pass examinations without striving for excellence; one of them said that after coping your method of studying, she is doing a PhD at the moment. Tell us the motivation.
At Obafemi Awolowo University, I was a member of the Academic Committee although I was still a student. I would write a topic and put academic nuggets and made photocopies for my classmates. I noticed that when a student is not doing well that getting extra tutorial might solve the problem, but only temporarily. So what I did was to address the mindset and, most of the time, you found that there were other issues to be addresses apart from low performance in schoolwork.
At Queens College, students would bring their books for me to write what we called wise sayings. My favourite saying then was; ‘The condition of a person’s life is in direct proportion to his commitment to excellence…’
I just did it; I did not know that I was motivating anybody. At the university, I was the type that would stand in front of the class and say things like ‘do not cheat, you cannot expect God to help you when you cheat.’ ‘Put in your best effort.’ I believe that the power to excel is in the mind; it is the way that you approach your courses that will lead to excellence. Part of the problem of students is what I call the grasshopper mentality.
What Is Grasshopper Mentality?
It is explained in the Day Five of the book. Moses sent twelve spies into the Promised Land; they were required to make a report of what they saw so they could conquer it. Of the 12 sent, 10 brought an unfavourable report; only two men, Joshua and Caleb were positive that they could take the land and they were the only two who made it to the Promised Land. If you are out there saying; “I can manage my Cs, Ds and Es. At least it is not an F; Academic
Excellence is not for you.
I felt the urgency to write the book came after we held a seminar online, my friends and I. It became a burden to reach out to teenagers when I discovered that many teenagers have nobody to guide them; when they called for advice, you found that a teenager was already struggling with issues of love relationship. I felt that these are young people who needed to find themselves first because some have finished secondary school and felt that was the educational ceiling as far as they were concerned.
When I mentioned to my friend, Raquel Jacobs, that we could do a seminar online, my friends laughed, but I was convinced that it was possible. We advertised for five days and on the Saturday it held in 2016, about 170 people participated. It was at the conference that we discovered that the problem of youths of this country went beyond JAMB or WASSCE; we saw that the problem was the attitude to life in general.
After the seminar, we took the whole of June 2016 and one extra day to address the issue. The result of the coaching, which I did only at the close of work, forms The Academic Excellence Devotional. I am an External Auditor and my work requires travelling but someone has to guide these youths.
Some of them gave testimony at the launch, saying that they have passed JAMB or their grades have improved since then. How do you have the time to counsel them?
I chat with them even when I am called upon in the middle of the night. I would not lose sleep over another person but a youth.
How do you get across to your audience?
I have a website where I explain ordinary lie events in the Light of God’s Word
What is your experience with teenagers?
They are in a hurry; they want to start school today and graduate immediately to start making money. They are not aware that character development is part of excellence. Some feel hopeless because they need guidance but they have nobody to encourage them.
What can parents do?
The role of parents in child’s excellent performance is to help see his good points and let him know them. If you tell a child that he is good, he will strive to do his best. A child who is continually run down is the one that goes about with a chip on his shoulders.
When a child has problems with his studies, don’t be in a hurry to get a tutor; his problem may be an emotional one which has taken a toll on his academic. I read a story of a child who had cerebral palsy; the mother refused to give; today that child is a graduate. My dream is that every teenager will read this book.
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