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I’ve always been enthusiastic to be a health professional —Basirat Rufai, UI Pharmacy best-graduating student

Umah Muhammed
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Basirat Rufai is the best-graduating student of the Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Ibadan, with a CGPA of 6.9 on a 7.0 scale.

In this interview by Kingsley Alumona, she speaks about her academic journey, the secret behind her success, her life on campus, her next move after graduation, and her advice for students.

W AS your studying pharmacy a conscious decision or were you persuaded by your family to study it? And, why did you choose University of Ibadan?

Studying Pharmacy was a conscious decision. I wasn’t pressed by my parents to go for it. I’ve always been enthusiastic to be a health professional right from my secondary school days, but I didn’t really like Medicine. So, for my love of chemistry and biology, the best option I could go for was Pharmacy.

Choosing the University of Ibadan was just a mere coincidence, nothing more.

You graduated with a CGPA of 6.9 out of 7.0, making you the best-graduating student in pharmacy. As a first-year student, did you have dreams of graduating with such a CGPA?

I always have this mindset of being outstanding in everything I do, and also being one of the best. So, from my first year, I was determined to have good grades and perform excellently in my academics. But, I didn’t really have that mindset to be the best-graduating student (BGS). But later on, I realised I was doing well, and I still remained focused and determined. So, it occurred to me, I could actually become the BGS. As a result, in my 300, 400 and 500 levels, I put in so much effort, and thank God, it finally happened.

What do you think prevented you from making a CPGA of 7.0?

My 100 and 200 level results prevented me. I had low scores in two courses in my first two years. That almost discouraged me. But, I kept on pushing.

Which aspect of pharmacy interests you more and how many distinctions did you make from your pharmacy courses?

I bagged seven distinctions in all Pharmacy courses: Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Pharmacognosy, Pharmaceutics and Industrial Pharmacy, Pharmaceutical Microbiology, Clinical Pharmacy, Social and Administrative Pharmacy, and Pharmacology. I’m interested in drug research and I hope to work with research organisations to help improve the health-care profession.

What are the secrets behind your exceptional academic record and performance?

I wouldn’t say I really did something different. I just made sure I did the right thing at the right time. I was determined and also consistent. During tests and exams, I go into hibernation mode. When it’s time to read, I read. When it’s time to rest or play, I do. I made sure I was always very prepared for any test or exam. I’m not much of a night reader, so I make use of my day judiciously. I’m also a fast writer, so I always note what every lecturer says in class. I try as much as possible not to miss out anything. I also try and filter any information I hear. At almost every level, as a pharmacy student, you would always hear something about a particular course in that same level, but I always try to filter any information I hear. Prayer cannot also be left out. I prayed to Almighty God to always bless my efforts, and I’m glad my prayers were answered.

Had it been you did not study pharmacy, which other course would you have studied? And do you think you would have done so well in that course?

None has really come to mind. I think choosing Pharmacy is just like the best option. But if I were to go for another course aside Pharmacy, I would have done excellently well too, no doubt.

How would you rate the kind of education you received in the University of Ibadan? Do you think you would have gotten a better experience in any other Nigerian university?

To be candid, I don’t think I would have gotten better experience in any other university. University of Ibadan has always been the first and the best, and I’m glad I passed through UI. The citadel of learning has always been of high standard, and I would not have gotten any better experience in any other Nigerian university.

Today, most people who own or run pharmacy/drug stores are not licensed pharmacists. As a young pharmacist, what kind of future do you foresee with this kind of setting, and what is the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) doing about it?

Well, like you said, they are not licensed pharmacists, so they run patent medicine stores. The sole aim was to supplement the healthcare workforce and they are also expected to sell a limited range of medications. In Nigeria, I don’t think the regulation of their activities is really there because they sell wide range of medications which should not be. The Pharmacists Council of Nigeria is working actively to regulate them because they are responsible for regulation of activities of the Patent Medicine Vendors.

Tell us about your social life (any boyfriends and parties) while on campus.

I had fun while in school, and I’m glad I didn’t really restrict myself. Well, I’m not a party type—especially night parties—but I hung out with friends when necessary. I attended programmes, conferences, and all. I had a boyfriend while in school, and we always chill outside my hostel at night, as my relaxation period.

What is next for you now after graduation? And where do you see yourself five years from now?

The next things after my graduation are internship, NYSC and also go for my MSc. I see myself being a successful pharmacist paving ways in the area of research. I also see myself being addressed as a Dr already, (laughs). I see myself winning in the area of pharmacy practice I delve into, and also encouraging younger colleagues. Then, I see myself married with children too.

What was your most trying moment as a pharmacy student and how did you manage it?

I can remember two, and I would like to share both. One of the moments was during my 500 level project. Also, during my 400 level exams—our exams are always like a marathon race. So, I was quite tired in between the week; and I was supposed to have Pharmaceutics one of those days. A day to the exam, my head was kind of full and I couldn’t really put much into it again. Everyone knows pharmaceutics is how much you can put into your head. As at midnight, I couldn’t go on again and I still had a lot of materials to read. I was crying in my mind because there was nothing I could do. I could not read nor sleep to relax my brain. I had to call my boyfriend that night to explain to him, he calmed me down and told me to relax a little bit. I went to the exam hall and I was very happy I was flowing while writing the exam. All thanks to God I didn’t re-sit that course.

How were you able to cope with the stress of night classes, financial challenges, religious activities and the like?

There weren’t really night classes like that, unless one decides to do ‘Till Day Break’ in school, which I never did because I wasn’t a night reader like that. I liked reading in my comfort zone. To be candid, I never really had financial challenges, all thanks to my parents. I always participated in religious activities and I could balance it with my academics. I always know my way around my schedule. I don’t allow one to affect the other.

What advice do you have for students who are aspiring to attain the same academic feat as you did?

My word of advice is to be determined and consistent. Also, do the right thing at the right time. It’s also important to figure out yourself, your reading pattern, time you are most active, and the like. Just be yourself. Do not imitate others; rather, do what suits you and what’s best for you. Sometimes, things may not go as planned, but it’s best not to give up. Also, it’s important to commit everything to the hands of our creator. Pray as much as you work hard.

I always have this mindset of being outstanding in everything I do, and also being one of the best. So, from my first year, I was determined to have good grades.


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