Special Guest: Adekunle Adetona
Chatting with my old time friend Ade, is always a pleasure. Nigeria born and bred, he arrived in England a young teenager with high hopes. With some hard work and a lot of perseverance, he managed to exceed his own expectations and gain a scholarship to attend the much heralded ‘Oxford University’. He told me a bit about what the interview process was like, his preconceptions and the day he got accepted.
I never thought I would go to Oxford University. Even when, after I went to the interview and I came out, I was like, that was a good experience, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. Yeah? I didn’t do badly. We can talk about that story separately.
I mean, I’ve always been a confident person. So even though I never thought about ‘not’ going to Oxford or ‘not’ knowing anyone that’s been to Oxford, the idea that I was ‘at’ Oxford University being interviewed, I just felt like, ‘Let’s give a good go! Whatever happens, happens’, You know?
Um, I started working a lot more, so I was quite confident that I knew a lot of the stuff I had to know. I think that helps a lot as well.
The Defiant One.
In the university entrance interview, it’s like, you have two Dons. Two like, you know, people who have done pretty well to be where they are, talking to you. You’re 20 years old, 21 or whatever and they asked me a lot of technical questions, reasoning questions. My course was about computing. So again, I got lucky. Let me explain why.
You see, if they started asking me questions that I couldn’t have worked out, then I might have come out a little worse off. I think it was my deductive skills that got me in there. I didn’t ask them why I was accepted. You know? I was just happy to get the place.
I remember them asking me one question in particular and I had to think about it because I didn’t know the answer. And while I was trying to think about it, one of the Dons said, ‘You know what, let’s, let’s stop it now.’ And I was like, ‘No!’ Kind of defiantly because I knew I had it! Yeah? And I ‘was’ able to do it by persisting that way.
Maybe that’s what it was. Maybe that’s a quality they liked. One of them actually ended up being my supervisor after I got in. I didn’t ever really talk to him about the interview and whatnot.
Breaking The Stigma
So to answer your question, even though I knew there was a stigma and I knew maybe I wouldn’t fit in. I didn’t know any other person who’d been there, let alone any other ‘black’ person. Um, so I thought, ‘You know what? Give it a go.’ And that’s what I did. It’s funny because when I ‘did’ start, there was loads of black people there!
I remember I was at home and I got this letter and I was with a friend called Akpor. Shout out to Akpor. I thought to myself, ‘Yeah, here’s the rejection letter’. He goes, ‘Nah! Open it.’ And I was like, ‘Nah, nah, not with you hear man, you’re gonna see a grown man cry!’ – [laughter].
The Odds Were Against Me.
Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you something. After my interview, the, um, one of the Dons said to me, ‘Thanks for coming. The odds of you getting in to Oxford University is 1 to 50, but thanks for coming.’ That was how the interview ended. And I thought, ‘Cheers mate.’ – [laughs!].
I just thought ‘Ah, forget this. It was a good train ride at least. You know what I mean? I got to come out of London for a second.
So when I read that I’d been accepted, in my mind I was like, ‘How the heck did I get into that!?’ And then I got into, ‘with’ a scholarship as well!? I thought, ‘This is like, this is a joke! Is this is a dream? Who sent this letter!?’. I couldn’t believe it. And obviously I was very happy.
If I didn’t get in to Oxford University, I would have still gone to somewhere else to do what I wanted to do and to learn what I wanted to learn. But yeah, I think it’s about following your passion really. Not letting people tell you what you ‘can’ and you ‘can’t’ do. If you realise that you can do it and you know, you’re trying it and you’re getting results and you want to keep trying it. That is really what life is, really enjoying yourself. Doing what you’re good at.