By doing the daunting and succeeding at it, Faith Oreoluwa Bello has stood out among hundreds of students who recently graduated from the University of Ibadan.
Bello graduated in style by bagging a first-class degree from the institution’s law faculty. She also graduated from the faculty as the best student in the private and property law department. Apart from this, Bello equally emerged as the best graduating student in Labour Law.
The feats stated above, however, do not represent the most important part of Bello’s story. Bello recorded all the academic achievements while managing a thriving fashion design and tailoring brand called Telobrand.
In an interview with FIJ, she shared her journey through the university, shedding light on her desire to study law and the decision to also venture into the tailoring business.
One thing stood out from Bello’s story — her decision to be different despite facing many stumbling blocks and challenges.
CHOOSING LAW IN A FAMILY OF MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS
Bello’s decision to study law contrasted with everything and everyone from her background. Every other member of her family, including her twin sister, works in the medical space. For context, Bello is from a family of seven and the only lawyer among five daughters.
“My dad is a medical doctor. He is retired but runs a private practice. My mum is also retired. She was a school principal before she retired. My eldest sister is a medical doctor, and my second eldest sister is a pharmacist,” Bello told FIJ.
“My third sister is a medical laboratory scientist. My fourth sister, who is also my twin, is a student of dentistry. So, I am the only member of the family who chose a different path.
“My break from the norm within the family started while I was in SS1. My twin and I were in the same science class. I, however, soon decided to leave for the arts because I was just not interested in the sciences. I wanted to become a lawyer. I did not let my parents know at the time.
“It took a while for my parents to realise. By the time they found out, it was almost too late for them to tell me to go back to the sciences. My dad was always very worried.
“In the sciences, you have formulas, methods and all that, but in the arts, you just have to spread. Fortunately for me, I wrote my JAMB once. I also wrote my WAEC once.
Bello said her parents and other family members were very supportive even when she chose a different path.
“To be honest, my dad wanted the family to be a family of medics, but they were as supportive as they could be. He was very scared; he did not know who could put me through as he did for my siblings,” said Bello.
“I think it reflected in my aggregate JAMB score. I didn’t have any precedent like my twin or my sisters. There was no one to guide me. He was very scared because of that. My aggregate score was somehow low, but I am grateful that it all worked out in the end.”
‘LAW IS A SELFISH INTEREST‘
It’s a common belief, and often rightly so, that juggling a full-time job alongside academics is an almost impossible feat. Some even argue that the same holds true for side hustles or vocations.
Consolidating her defiance of circumstances however, Bello managed to achieve this and succeed on both ends. The most obvious indicator on the business front is the size of her brand on social media.
As of the time of this report, her brand’s business page had an active audience of more than seven thousand people. Speaking on how she was able to accomplish both feats, Bello attributed her success to her ability to schedule her activities properly and stick strictly to them.
“Law is a very selfish mistress, and so is sewing. What I did was that after classes, I would resume sewing, and I always limited myself to taking just two orders per week,” Bello said.
“During weekends, I would spend both days in the library, from 8 to 6 pm. I cannot deny the fact that hard work really helped me. I also took tutorials in classes and taught some of my mates. It gave me the chance to read from cover to cover. I knew some things off my head because of that. It was an opportunity to read over and over again, iteratively.
“I did not exceed my two orders a week at any point. I needed to meet my customers’ expectations, and I wanted to study at the same time.
“I never went for more than two orders, just to make extra cash as a student. It was just me trying to discipline myself. Whenever I had free time, I took my books and read them.
“Most of the time, I didn’t necessarily know everything from the first read. But I read as many times as I could. There is a law I follow. It says that you have to read a thing about three to five times to get familiar. So, I do just that. By the time I carry the book again, it’s not always strange. Assimilation becomes easier.
“And oh! I usually never read at night. I believe the night is for sleeping. I sleep all night. I read only during the day. It’s usually from morning to evening. By 8:30 pm or 9 pm, I had gone to bed.
“Whenever we were close to the exams, I wouldn’t take orders. I would read from morning to evening, almost every day. That was even what helped me during my exams, I think. I just could not let go of the habit.
“It was hard, but I struggled still. I really wanted to be an example, a student of a tough course with a business that could still come out with a first class.”
Bello also gave credit to her faith while talking about her academic and business success. She said her partner, friends, mentor and family members form a huge part of her success story.
“I also had a mentor. She is in law school already. She always encouraged me. She taught me. I am practically just following her lifestyle,” said Bello.
“My success story is not complete without God. There are a lot of cases and instances I cannot explain. Say for instance, when I wrote my UTME that year, my aggregate score was low: I didn’t expect that I would get an admission.
“I don’t know what would have happened if the lecturer that called me then didn’t call me. I would have missed my admission. I would have missed my clearance and would have not known that I had got an admission.
“All of the instances where I was sick during exams could have cost me. What if I had a resit, you know? I emerged the best graduating student in Labour Law.
“If someone had told me that this would be it, I’d have argued. I never even thought of Labour Law in any way. It was a shock to me. Every time I think about it, it’s just God’s grace.
“I also have a man who was very supportive. He gave me a lot of emotional support and stability.”
THE CHALLENGES AND THE SACRIFICES
In a back-stadium interview after the World Cup Final in 2022, Lionel Messi once alluded to the struggles and suffering he faced on the road to winning the World Cup. According to the player, winning is a cumulation of little efforts, challenges and even failures.
Bello also shared the same sentiment. The law graduate believes her story should inspire people to recognise challenges and set out to achieve their dreams regardless of these challenges.
She believes that a success story is only half told when the sacrifices that accompany it are not emphasised.
“I developed my interest in tailoring when I was younger. I would always take the pieces from my mum’s remaining clothes and cut them into different things. Creating clothes was always fascinating to me,” said Bello.
“When my dad noticed this, he decided to enrol me in a fashion school during the holidays. I started sewing my own clothes then. But it’s not always been easy.
“In my first year, for instance, my result was terrible and I almost got depressed. I think that was what spurred me into being intentional about my successes.
“I have also lost friends; there’s nothing as painful as that. I have lost so many close and tight friends. I have been talked about, cheated on and bullied.
“There were times I believed my friends left me because I never appeared to have time for their friendship. I always liked to use my free time to make up for grounds I needed to cover in my academics and brand. I count all these as some of my sad experiences.
“My schedule never took anything away from my social life. I also had less time for my other interests. These interests include poetry and public speaking.
“During my 200 and 300 level years, I did a lot of spoken word poetry because I like arts. Anything art in any form was just simply fascinating to me. I also participated in the Poets in Nigeria competition that took place in UI in my 200 level.
“I came fourth in the 2018 edition of the competition. There were so many participants at the event, so, it was still a win for me. I also participated in my faculty debate competitions.
“I came second in one of the competitions. I had so many of my poems back then, but it’s been a while since I wrote because like I said, law is a selfish mistress.
“I am also a sickly girl. I fall ill pretty easily. This affected me a lot throughout school. But with God, my parents, people and discipline, I was able to push through to a success story.”
I HOPE I AM ABLE TO INSPIRE OTHER YOUNG PEOPLE
Bello hopes that her story influences other young people to strive for success and excellence even when ambitions and plans appear impossible.
“I really want to be an example of a student studying a taxing course with a demanding business that could still come out with a first-class degree. I want my story to encourage youths who are entrepreneurs. I want them to know the sky would turn out to be a stepping stone for them once they put in the effort required.
“Having a solid certificate pays. At the same time, you never can tell which would pave the way for you in life. We are young and agile, so, I believe we all have the capacity to do things. Why then would I want to limit myself?”
She is very optimistic about her future. She hopes to still actively participate and excel at being a lawyer and a business owner.
“As it stands right now, I am still hopeful that I would be able to manage being a lawyer and a fashion brand owner,” said Bello.
“I don’t necessarily have to be the one managing the brand fully. I hope I am able to employ other young people. I want to keep it because it’s my dream. I also want to be a full-fledged lawyer because it is also my dream.”
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