Apologies for the long break. I have been caught up in lots of things the past few days.
On today’s feature, I am happy to share the story of another Nigerian friend and sister of mine, Bisola Babalola. She is the definition of an ambitious individual with a heart of gold and on fire for Jesus. I hope you enjoy her story…Trust me you will!
What is your name and what university did you attend? What year did you graduate and what course did you offer?
My name is Abisola Babalola and I had my LLB Law at the University of Leeds in 2015 and my LLM in International Development Law and Human Rights at the University of Warwick in 2017.
Briefly describe how your university life; any extracurricular activities you were involved, scholarships, awards/ honors etc.
My university years were a journey of Christ-discovery and purpose-discovery and all my activities were tied along those two streams. If I was not at school, I was in church or attending conferences. It really was that simple.
Based on your experience in university, do you regret going to university or did you regret at a point? If so why?
Never. I’ll always consider quality education as a huge gift to mankind. For me, it’s not so much about learning a discipline as it is about learning how to learn. Today, I’m working in a field that’s different from my academic discipline and I owe that flexibility to the discipline of independent learning enforced in most UK universities. I was almost always required to learn by myself and under pressure. Though frustrating and sometimes tiresome, in my experience, I’m glad I went through it.
Upon graduation, did you have any plans as to what your next move was? Could you please share?
The plans I believe God graciously placed in my heart, followed me all the way from high school. I knew I wanted to work in international development from the moment the very idea of the university came to mind. That one vision influenced all my decisions, course choices and activities while at university and beyond. I didn’t have any group of friends with similar interests, neither did I have anyone to look up to with regards to the vision I had. I had almost no role model or mentor (even academically speaking- I am the first and only lawyer in my entire lineage), but God put a vision in my heart and that vision gave me the strength to forge ahead and venture out even if I had to do it physically alone and in reality, with Him.
Based on the answer from the question above, did these plans materialize in the short term or even long term? If it did what was the process like? If not, what happened? Did you have any backup plans?
The process was quite interesting. I buried my head in serving God and completing my studies and everything materialized in its own course. God always gives us the opportunity to use our seasons well and if we would do our best with the opportunity that every season brings, we will have no regrets in the next season. I say this because I remember being so worried about getting a job after my masters’ programme especially because I knew most UK organizations wouldn’t take international students after their academic programme had lapsed. I had done my best to apply to the relevant positions as I became aware of them while also working on my thesis and serving in the church. My spiritual mentor spoke with me about my job anxieties and he said “Bisola, if you would just do what you should in this season well, God will sort your next season out. Your business is not to figure out the next phase, it is to work out your current phase successfully and trust God with the next one”. I remember how he repeated this over and over and though I struggled with it, I decided to obey what he said. I went through many frustrations with my masters degree, as my supervisor wasn’t even available to supervise my work. Nevertheless, I completed it with God’s help. It was a tough season in many ways that I cannot possibly share here, but I still trusted God to help me finish well. Finish your seasons well and the future will be alright, God gives us seasons for a reason.
In the case where you faced rejections especially in applying for jobs etc, what effect did it have on your person? Care to share any experiences if you had one?
Oh, I was rejected many times over! All the way from the first year to my final year, I couldn’t count the number of law firms and other organizations that rejected me. I have gotten to interview stages of applications only to be turned down. My most recent rejection was just in the last quarter of last year, so it’s not that far down the line. Rejections are a part of life and they teach us the significant lessons of humility and resilience. I’ve learned to take rejections as an opportunity to dig deeper and rise higher in my sense of presentation, self-awareness, and subject-awareness. It will shock you to know that even the world’s greatest achievers still get rejected from major feats they desire to attain. When rejection comes, especially when we feel very qualified, we must learn to embrace it not as an insult to our person but as a sign that there’s more to learn and there are more boundaries to break. It could also be a sign that it’s not God’s will for us.
If you were to be that 18/19 year old going back to university, knowing what you know now (irrespective of how many years after university) what advice will you give yourself? Any advice to others?
I would advise myself to pray a lot more about my future and to spend a lot more time studying the word of God. I’ll tell myself not to confuse spiritual activity for spiritual depth. I’ll tell myself to continually put God’s voice of possibility over men’s voice of impossibility.
For others, I would say, trust God with your life and stop trying to do everything with your own wisdom. Take education and other opportunities that the different seasons of your life bring, as a gift from God. Don’t be distracted by people or seeming difficulties, everyone goes through something. Instead, complain less and go the extra mile to see how you could succeed in spite of the odds. Be very humble towards wise elders around you and listen to their advice, you may know technology, but you don’t know life as much as they do. Finally, ALWAYS ask for God’s help with everything you do and ALWAYS be grateful to Him when He helps you.
With the current state of the job market, do you think in like 10 years time, universities will still have value? Especially with the rate at which many graduates end up being unemployed or young people prefer to start their businesses or train in apprenticeships?
Of course, universities will exist in the next ten years. They may take a different form and engage new approaches, but they will still be with us. With the growing role of tech in a world like ours, it will do more harm than good to toy with the role of education at any level. That people don’t get jobs may be a problem, but there would most certainly be a bigger problem if we had no opportunity to learn a discipline or at least discover ourselves, in the first place.
What do you do now in terms of work or any other thing you are involved, care to share your social media handles so people could connect with you?
I work as a Consultant in International Development.
LinkedIn: Bisola Babalola
Hope you enjoyed today’s feature…Stay tuned for the next feature! Have a great week ahead 🙂