My University/Law Journey
I always wanted to be a lawyer since as far as I can remember. The story is when I was younger I used to ask so many questions and I still do. So everyone around me would say, you’re going to become a lawyer, and I grew to believe that. I went on to graduate from the University of Surrey, the fourth University in the UK, with a first class degree in July 2015, and I must say it was quite a journey getting there. I remember starting my law degree at the University of Surrey two weeks late because I had just moved from Toronto (this is a story for another day). But yeah I just came in from Toronto so I missed fresher’s week and the introduction week as well, so it’s safe to say I was confused.com.
I remember hearing all these foreign concepts in class like Westlaw, LexisNexis and being so confused. Most of the cases were R and somebody and I remember thinking who is this R and why is he causing all this trouble? lmao. I later found out that 'R' in England meant Crown, which meant Government, which was the prosecutor for all criminal offences. It was all so confusing. And I’m definitely not alone with this, but I feel with law we are not given enough guidance on what to do to get good grades, how to excel, or how to answer questions. Law is a very intricate course with so many complexities and most of the time, we’re left to figure things out on our own. I didn’t realise what I had to do to write a first class answer until my final year! Yep! It took me three years! This is one of the reasons I wanted to start my blog, to provide the answers, I never got when I was at University.
So back to my story, I was quite overwhelmed with the workload and worried about how I was going to get through, seeing as I had missed two weeks of school already. Then I heard something, which I consider a blessing till this day. The lecturer said that first year didn’t count! Wait! What?! Was I dreaming! Omg! I love this Country! I remember feeling so relieved after hearing that. I wasn't very frequent with my classes after that- Yes I was terrible lol. Please don’t try this at home! So first year ended and I had a 2:1, which wasn’t half bad seeing as it didn’t count.
Then second year started, now this was real business. Our work was going to count now. I’d say in second year, I was a lot more serious and I started to get a hang of things. So I never missed essay clinic. I went for almost all my classes. I studied quite last minute but when I did I gave it my all. Second year was the year where I’d attend all those extra talks organised by the school of law like ‘how to write a first class answer’ etc. So I’d say by second year, I had an idea of what I needed to do to get a first, but I just couldn't do it (whereas final year was the year where I knew what I was supposed to do and I actually did it) . I couldn't do it because it just seemed like a lot of stress and I didn't think I had enough time either. I remember thinking to myself, "Do all my further reading?" What?! Was I the first? So I did as much work as I could, but it was certainly not my best.
Towards the end of second year, right before my second year exams, I attended this event organised by the Christian Society in my University. And this woman was speaking and she said as children of God, success was our birthright. She said as children of God, we were born to excel in whatever field we found ourselves. She said even at University, because of the God within you, a first class degree was your birth right because it was the very best. And as children of God, we were born to do great things not for ourselves but so that all the Glory would be given back to God. I remember hearing this and for the first time deciding that I wanted to make a first class in law and maybe this was actually possible. So I went on to prepare for my second year exams, I was starting late but I did the best I could with the time I had.
Fast-forward to a few months later, it was the summer of 2014. The summer before my final year. I had just gotten my second year grades. Real bummer. 65% what? Who gets a first class with a 65% in their second year? I had played my life away. I remember being so sad. I genuinely felt like I had shattered my hopes. I remember praying that day and just saying God, I don’t know what’s going on now but I know you’ve got me. I know I can still do this as long as you’re with me. Even if my prayer was sincere, I would be lying if I said I truly believed getting a first was still possible at that point. I still thought I had messed up my chances but I was determined to give it my best.
I went into my final year, with so much fire in me. I bought all the stationery in Tesco lol because I was the first. I picked all my modules very carefully (I have a separate post on this) I made a detailed plan of how I was going to study. I decided I was not going to miss a single class, a decision I followed through with. I made a routine, after class I’d sleep till 7pm. I’d wake up at seven, have dinner, go to the library at 11pm and study till 6am in the morning. I’d come back in the morning when my housemates would just be waking up. I remember them always being so confused, they weren’t studying law so they were always like “what were you reading till 6 in the morning?!” At the start of the semester, I also calculated my grades and my target. I needed to get a 72% average in my final year to graduate with a First Class, it was very high especially for law (where you’d be lucky to even get a 65 in anything) but my God was with me! We could do this!
The first semester of my final year, I worked harder than I had in my three years of University combined. I hardly slept, most of the time I’d sleep for just five hours. There were times I felt like giving up but I just kept on going. There was no way I would work this hard and not do well. I gave that semester everything I had. Then my first semester results came back, I was praying for all firsts in all my four courses. Then what happened, I had only two firsts, not just that, my average that year was 68% and I needed a 72% average. I had only gone 3% higher even if I had worked ten times harder. I remember being so confused! What was I doing wrong? Then I did the math. I had only one semester left of University, now I needed a 76% average in my final (second) semester if I still wanted to graduate with a First Class. Now let me break this down for you, the grading for law is probably one of the weirdest things you’d come across. I remember having a 60 in my first year and taking it back to the lecturer because I was so upset and she told me I had done so well for law and she didn’t understand why I was complaining. I remember this guy in my class getting a 75 on our Equity & Trusts essay in second year and he pretty much became a superstar, everyone talked about him for weeks! Even I went to praise him myself. So a First Class in Law wasn’t something you just stumbled across, it was like a unicorn, very rare/impossible. When I was aiming for a 72% average, I’ll confess I was overreaching, but now, a 76 percent ?! Who was I kidding? This was the time in the story where you hung up your dancing shoes and just accepted your 2:1 like that. Reality suddenly started to sink in, I was never going to have a first class degree.
After a while, I accepted my fate and then my second and final semester started. My plan was to work hard and maintain a 2:1. As long as I didn't go below a 2:1, everything would be fine. That was the plan. Then from nowhere, two months towards the end of my degree, I felt this huge bout of discouragement. I had no idea where that came from but I know that I felt like giving up on my degree. I had come so close but yet I felt so much fear. I felt the kind of fear that even stopped me from reading. I had zero motivation to do anything school related. I didn't study for weeks. At a point, I started having thoughts like, "what if I fail" or "what if I don't even graduate." I went from trying to maintain a 2:1 to thinking I was going to fail my entire degree. Now I know that, that was the lie of the devil. I decided to speak to my mum and my close friends about it and they showered me with words of encouragement, especially my mum. My mum told me that I had two more months and I was almost there and I should just keep on going. One of my close friends called me from Amsterdam one evening. She had studied Law at Surrey as well and now she was doing her masters in Amsterdam. She told me not to worry and that I would get through it and we prayed together. After speaking to my mum and my close friends, that was the end of it. They gave me so much strength, and that phase came to an end. Did all my fears disappear completely? No they didn't. But in life, I have learnt that courage is not the absence of fear, it is the ability to face your fears. It is the ability to act in spite of your fears. Courage can simply be defined as an outward action opposite to an inward feeling. It is that decision to succeed despite all your fears of failing. It is that quiet voice that goes, "I'm gonna do it anyways" "I'm gonna try again." So I started working hard again and I made a decision, that this wasn't going to be a story of how I tried and failed, but it was going to be a story of how I tried and I succeeded.
While at University, I attended the Hillsong Church in Guildford. What drew me to Hillsong was their modern approach to Christianity- the fact that they made church very enjoyable. I also found the people very genuine and relatable. I remember walking in the first day and the pastor was wearing ripped jeans lol, I was confused at first and then he started preaching and then I was like "Wow! I've found my people!" In my final year, I served on the Hillsong Church host team. So one day after the service, I was speaking to my friend on the host team who was doing his masters at Surrey. I told him I wanted to get a first class before, but I needed a 76% average and it was law so it was impossible to get. And his response baffled me, he said “you’ll get it!” I was like what?! He was so sure! In my mind I was like, you don’t know me! You don’t know my life! You don’t know what I’ve been through!! What do you mean I’ll get it?! He said, "because with man all things are impossible, but with God all things are possible." He repeated it again, he said “you’ll get it.” I was like “wait a minute” “you don’t get it, I worked my butt off in my first semester, I didn’t even believe I could work like that and I got a 68%, now I need a 76% which is almost a 10% jump, if I work any harder than I have already, I’d probably die lol, I’m telling you there’s nothing I can do again.” He said “who said you have to work harder?” He said “you’ve done the hard work already, what you need now is the faith work.”
I went back home that day, thinking ‘faith work’ what does that mean? At this point, the final semester of my final year was coming to a close. We were going on the Easter break in a couple of weeks. So I did what every University student does at this point, I made a plan of how I would be productive during the Easter holidays. I was deceiving myself! The Easter break came to an end and I had barely reached half of my goals. I wanted to tear my study plan because I was so disappointed in myself. So the last week of the Easter break came, and that weekend, Hillsong was having its annual Colour Conference at Wembley Arena. My friend who was also in her final year invited me to come. I wanted to go, but it was a three day conference, after which we would resume Uni and I hadn’t been productive at all that Easter, so I was like, this is my last chance to be productive, why would I spend it at some women’s conference all the way in London. But for some reason, I felt like I was meant to go for it, so I did.
It was so much fun! The performances were amazing! I attended the whole thing with two of my friends. It was also a good break from Uni and so refreshing. On the second day, Dawnchere Wilkerson was preaching. So I’d leave a video below to show you one of the reasons why I love Dawnchere! She’s so goofy and funny. I genuinely think she’s my spirit animal.
Omg I love her! lol. With Dawnchere, she starts very calm and slow, but when she gets to the end Omg! She just goes on fire! And you’re like Wow! That was the same thing that happened when she was preaching. Mind you, this was THREE WEEKS to my Exams, so we were going to resume the next Monday, then we would have three weeks of classes then exams would start. So towards the end of her sermon, she talked about a plant called the Century plant. She said, "the Century plant stays the same for years, it grows so slowly and everyone around it underestimates it, they assume it would never bring forth fruit. But within THREE WEEKS! it shoots up to twenty feet tall, it grows so tall and so high and it brings forth fruits that no one could have ever expected it could." She said, “hunnie! you don’t know the miracle seed within you.” She said “at the right moment, God will speak to it and it will blow up into the miracle that God has planned!” She said “Just turn your eyes to Jesus and watch as He changes every thing at the right time.” I was in my seat and my mouth was wide open, I was like, this is me! this is my life! I have THREE WEEKS left to my Exams! I can do this! I can still do this! that plant is me! This is for me! I left the Conference so determined to give the next three weeks my all and just believing that God could do it.
I went back to University so happy that I had attended the conference. I finally understood the ‘faith work’ my friend was talking about. I had to first believe that God could come through and He would crown all my efforts. I needed to stop trying to do everything in my own strength. To get a 76% average, I either had to have all firsts- with marks above the 76 mark- in all my modules or; all firsts and a mark as high as a 90 in one of my courses. So I picked my Evidence coursework which I was working on that day in the library. I brought out a flashcard and I wrote “Evidence 95% Golden Egg” I said my Evidence coursework was going to be my Golden Egg, it was going to be the grade that would give me my first class degree. I was going to have a 95 on it. There was this Bible verse that said “write the vision and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it, for the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak and not lie, though it tarry, wait for it because it will surely come.” I still have the flashcard where I wrote ‘Evidence 95’ on. I wrote it down, believing God could do it.
This time around, I wasn’t just working hard like my first semester, I was faithing it too! I prayed before I started studying or writing any of my essays, and before I made any decision regarding my work. I was constantly asking God for strength and guidance in every single thing I did. I remember getting back to my room after a long day at the library, and I was unpacking my bag, and I brought out the flashcard where I had written ‘Evidence 95’ I remember a voice laughing in my head and telling me to tear it and that who was I kidding to believe I could get a mark in the nineties in law. I remembered how in my first year, a lecturer was going through the marking scheme/ grade descriptors and he had told us to disregard the 80-100 marking range because it was impossible in law. He said ‘lets start from 70', and he told us the requirements for marks in the 70s. Was I deceiving myself believing a First Class was still possible? Nah I served a bigger God. I never tore that flashcard, I kept it and I still have it until this day.
I was determined to give that semester the very best! In the past, when sharing my journey, I tended to undermine how hard I worked on my degree because I thought that if I didn't, it meant that, I was trying to take the glory for my degree when it was really God’s. But growth has made me realize that working hard in itself is a testimony, because that kind of hard work requires strength that can only come from God. So did I work hard on my law degree? Very! I literally gave my final year everything I had. I barely slept. There were times when I felt like giving up but God gave me the strength to keep on going. In the last three weeks of my degree, I worked so hard! I gave all my courseworks every thing I had, every single one of them, and my exams too. This was the final push! I didn't hand in any of my courseworks until I was sure I had done everything I could. I worked very hard on my exams too. Three weeks went by and I handed in my courseworks and I wrote my exam. Then, final year came to an end. (I have more specific posts about my preparation process on my blog, so check out my other blog posts for this).
Fast-forward to a month after that, I was sitting in a law school class in Bwari, my results were coming out that day and I didn’t know what to expect. I COULD NOT FOCUS in class, all I could think of were my results. But after all my fear, I came to a position of complete trust where I believed that God had got me no matter what and I had nothing to fear. When I checked my results, I had a first class on all my assessments in my final semester, I don’t know if you remember, but I said earlier that I prayed for all firsts in my first semester but it didn’t happen. The Bible verse which I mentioned earlier says “the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak and not lie, though it tarry, wait for it because it will surely come.” I didn’t get my prayer in my first semester, but I got it in my second semester when it mattered the most. God was listening all along. Not only that, I had a 90% on my Evidence Coursework, a grade that had never been given in the School of Law at the time. It was the highest mark in the cohort. On my coursework feedback, my lecturer, a published author and reputed academic, had written, "What a way to finish your degree. Thank you so much for producing something so impressive in my module. I'm proud to have taught you." Wait a minute! My teacher was thanking me? Who was I?
That year, my average was not the 76% I thought was so impossible, my God gave them one more, I had achieved a 77% average! And to crown it all, I had achieved a First Class Degree with honours! I later learnt that I was one of the few people in my entire year that achieved this feat. I remember refreshing the web page of my results so many times because I couldn’t believe it. My friend Nnenna was there and she was like “wait, are you looking for something more than first class" lol. At the end of the day, God came through for me. He said He would do it and He did it. I remember seeing my grades and breaking into tears of joy because I couldn’t believe it. I was so overwhelmed. All the stress was worth it, all the hard work, all the sleepless nights. Achieving this feat has brought so many opportunities into my life. After making a first, I got accepted into the University of Oxford (i.e the best University in the world) on the Masters in Law programme- the Oxford BCL (also the most prestigious masters in law course in the world) and I graduated in September of this year! I have also been called to the Nigerian Bar and I am currently a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court.
I was gonna just go on with my life and not share this journey but I believe that there might be someone out there that needs this, even if it's just one person that is encouraged by this- that's enough for me. I tried to provide a summary of my journey in this post, but over the next couple of months I’d be going more in depth into specific things that happened in my final year on my blog and also specific tips and advice, from the practical things like: how to pick your modules, how to answer questions in law, how to score high marks in law; to the faith work that I’m also here to help you with as well! I hope I covered all the key points!
Sending positive energy your way!