Saheed Alabi is not your ordinary medical graduate for so many reasons. First, he graduated from Olabisi Onabanjo University, OOU, as the overall best medical student, in spite of his humble background. Saheed, who is the son of a butcher father and a mother who sells herbs, defied all odds to, not only graduate top of his class, but also to get distinctions in over 6 courses.
He spoke on the journey to where he is now, he revealed that it was both smooth and rough, however, he said he does not regret the rough patches because without them, one would not learn all they need to learn in life. He said:
“For me, my rough patch was getting into medical school. Sometimes, money becomes an issue and you have to struggle, then hopefully scholarship comes through which you get some funds to augment what you have. The federal government scholarship was so helpful and also MTN foundation. I got the MTN foundation sponsorship just once due to the problems within my school.
“Within the terms of agreement, the school was to forward my result every session, but the school defaulted when in the second year so I couldn’t continue on the Fund. I got the MTN fund for one year and the Federal government sponsored me for 5 years.”
Saheed graduated from medical school at almost thirty years old, the age at which most other doctors have already begun practising.
According to him, this was due to the fact that he already bagged a first degree in Science lab technology from Yabatech. After his first degree, he still nursed the dream of becoming a doctor, so he applied at the University of Ibadan and was offered Zoology instead of medicine. He did that for one year then left, retook JAMB exam before he finally got admitted into OOU to study his dream course.
On getting there, sadly, things did not go smoothly due to the constant strike, this he said made him spend 8 years studying a 6 years course.
“It took me eight years to study medicine due to strike; internal strike, NMA strike, ASUU strike… all of them will affect us as clinical students. If there’s no hospital, there’s no teaching laboratory, because the laboratory of medical students is the teaching hospital. So when the hospital is on strike that means there are no patients to teach medical students.”
When asked by LIB if he would have coped on just his parent’s income, without the funding he received, Saheed explained that it would definitely have been tougher, considering the cost of most medical textbooks.
However, he explained that his parents still did their best and went above and beyond for him and his other three siblings. He continued:
“My mum, most especially has been very very supportive, but without the government funding, it would not have been so smooth as I had it. Most people did not know who my parents are or what they do because I was able to meet up with my peers, carried all the textbooks my colleagues had, I didn’t really suffer much due to the funding, both from home and from the board.”
Saheed attributes his exceptional result, not to hard work, but to smart work. He agreed that he did not read the most, but that he succeeded by observing himself to know what worked best for him and he followed that formula to get to where he is today. He also said his lecturers and mentors had a huge part to play in who he has become today. He added:
“Someone said extraordinary students just do ordinary things in an extraordinary fashion. There’s also a famous quote that says strike the iron when it’s hottest and that’s the time when you can be able to mould the iron. I just think I read when I know I assimilate best, which is during the day. No matter how busy the day is I will make out time to read. At night I can’t read, I’ll need to sleep.”
The exceptional student said teaching is his hobby, yet he insists that, though it might seem like it, he is not a boring person. He said he is really lively and takes part in activities, including attending every single medical dinner ever held.
“I enjoy teaching, I teach a lot, to me it’s fun. I can spend 8 hours teaching and not be tired. When I read something new I teach it to people so that I can remember it. I’m an outgoing, fun person in spite of that. You can’t be with me and not laugh.
“Asides teaching, as a student, I held positions of authority within the Muslim student’s society and even in the school politics, I was even a two-time senator and there’s virtually no dinner organised by the medical student’s association that I did not attend. The most important thing is to ensure you live a balanced life.”
Saheed hopes to travel abroad and further his education, then return to Nigeria to impact his community. He said he is still trying to decide between becoming an academic or going the clinical way. He revealed that he’d love to do both, but has been told one will suffer. He, however, is bent on making the effort and watching to see how it goes.
Saheed also disclosed to LIB that he had his very first girlfriend only two years ago when he was in his fourth year. They eventually had to go their separate ways due to distance.
Then while in his final year, he began dating a pharmacy undergraduate, the only amorous relationship he ever had with a fellow student. When asked if he has plans to marry her he replied;
“Of course, I don’t know when yet, but it should not be more than 2 years from now.”