Welcome to another blog post here. Alexandria Braie is a Chartered Accountant who graduated as the overall best student during her graduation at Babcock University with a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 4.90. News about her quickly spread as her performance shocked everyone there present, especially because she was a student of Accounting, one of the courses perceived as difficult.
Today, MTA had the opportunity of interviewing her. Enjoy the post below as she tells us about her experience, gives us practical tips and lessons and updates us on her life so far. Enjoy!
• Hi Alex. Thank you for choosing to grant us this interview.
Hi, thank you for the opportunity to share my experience.
• First, tell us briefly about Alex. (Where you from are, position in family, your age (optional), educational background, etc.)
Hi, my name is Alexandria Braie. I’m from Delta state in Nigeria and I come from a family of five, of which I am the only girl out of three children. I attended University of Lagos Staff School for my primary school, then went ahead to attend Redeemer’s International Secondary School, Maryland Lagos. After which I attended Babcock University and graduated with a first class in Accounting. I am also a chartered accountant from both the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria and Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.
A bit about me, Alex is a lover of God and also a lover of good things (good food, good style). I am an introverted extrovert, if there is anything like that. I enjoy creating things from the scratch, watching movies, swimming and travelling. Do not be surprised to hear about me travelling and touring the world soon. I also love meeting people and learning from them. I can go on and on, but let me just pause here.
• Before we even proceed, I’m eager to ask, why accounting?
My love for accounting stemmed out of my love for numbers and calculations, I noticed this while in secondary school. I was a commercial student and accounting was one of the subjects I offered that excited me and gave me so much joy. Most especially when my debit and credit entries would balance in a given question. Even though I did well in all subjects, one would ask “then why did you choose accounting, if you did well in all subjects”? I would reply by saying naturally, I noticed I enjoyed it better than the other subjects and it was easy for me.
So that was definitely a strong pointer for me, together with the joy calculations and working with numbers gave me. I also have a wonderful mother who noticed this and guided me with her knowledge and experience.
• How was the experience studying in a Nigerian university?
If I must be honest, I don’t think I initially wanted to study in a Nigerian university, because of the misconceptions I had heard about the educational system in Nigeria; for example spending more that the required number of years, lecturers having affairs with students to give them good grades etc. But as God would have it I did. Now looking back, I’m glad that I did as I know that it was not only part of God’s greater plan for me, but would also prove a rewarding experience.
I had prepared my mind early enough that university was going to be a different ball game from what secondary school was. No parent to drop you off at school, no after school lessons to prepare you, no one to remind you to do your assignments or projects, or to make sure you have eaten, to mention a few. I saw it as a test of survival with the aim of preparing me for the real world.
One principle I had carried along with me for a long time, was to be adaptable and open minded. Right from the first day of resumption, I had already managed my expectations by making sure I had an open mind towards everything and adjusted to my new reality as it required of me.
Given that there are notions that you hear about Nigerian universities, I decided that my case was going to be different in all aspects. Were there challenges along the way? YES! But I overcame each and every one of them as they came. I would say that studying in a Nigerian university is a test of “Self” – discovering who you are and staying true to yourself, in the midst of all that is going on. I never left anything to chance, I was deliberate about my actions and my decisions.
Bearing in mind the words of Paulo Coelho which says “People never learn anything by being told, they have to find out for themselves.” I took conscious effort to make my experience worthwhile, which most people make the mistake of leaving to chance.
• Any major likes or dislikes?
This is a broad question, but I would say personally some things I dislike would be dishonesty and dirtiness or untidiness, just to mention a few. While some of my likes include helping people out of difficult situations and taking calculated risks.
• So, you were best graduating student from your class, and accounting for that matter, how did you feel about the award?
Well, I was the best graduating student in my course, in my faculty and in the whole school. Did you just ask how I felt about that? It felt so awesome! Most importantly it was rewarding and I felt so blessed. Don’t ask me what I did to deserve it, all I know is that God honored me and I am forever grateful for that.
• Was it a goal you had long before your graduation?
As funny as it would sound, it was a goal I had right from when resumed my 100 level first semester in Babcock. I told God about it and the specific things I wanted. What at that time looked like a big goal, looks like a stepping stone to greater things now. My faith was strong even when challenges came that made things appear otherwise, I held on to God’s promises. What was left, was for me to add my works to it, so that my faith would not be dead. I must tell you that “Nothing comes easy”, it takes a lot of hard work, determination, focus and self-discipline to achieve anything in life.
• Things like that don’t happen overnight, how did you do it?
Don’t be afraid to dream, it actually costs nothing. I tell people to dream big, but also be diligent in achieving the dream. I had a dream which was to be the best overall graduating student in Babcock University, and that dream became my reality. What might have seemed like a big dream to some at that time, was just the beginning of greater things to come for me.
I may not be able to share all the tips on how I did it, but I will share these few qualities and principles that helped me through my journey.
Firstly, I must let you know that there is something powerful about writing your vision down and making it plain. This served as a reminder of where I was heading and keeping a mental note of this vision also helped, such that every action I took was aligned with the vision. Remember that vision helps you to stay the course, even when the short term distraction are trying to sway you off course.
Next was my attitude towards everything and anything – I had an open mind. This would make more sense especially if you have those ahead of you in school or the lecturer themselves, tell you that a particular course is difficult to pass or that the “grade A” is for the lecturer, so you need to prepare your mind to get a grade B or below. I laughed every time I heard this or was told this. It never changed anything about my attitude, if anything it stirred up more drive and determination to want to do better in that course and achieve what everyone said was not achievable. I had many of these experiences whilst in school and the question that followed was “How did you do it?” I would tell you that when you are defeated in your mind, you are defeated already in reality, same way when you win in your mind, winning in reality is easier.
Below are some qualities that assisted me:
Focus – Don’t get distracted by things that have nothing to do with your goal(s).
Determination – Where there is a will, there is a way.
Hard-work- Put in effort and ensure you work hard to achieve your dreams.
Self-discipline – Self-discipline is doing what needs to be done, when it needs to be done even when you don’t feel like doing it.
Good character – “Character is doing the right thing, even when nobody is looking” – J. C Watts.
Perseverance- Be steadfast in your course of action, even if it is difficult or uncomfortable in order to reach your goal.
• What would you like other accounting students to know about attaining academic excellence?
Most people hear the success story, but fail to recognize that there is a lot that goes on behind the scene in achieving that success.” If you don’t sacrifice for what you want, what you want becomes the sacrifice”- Anonymous
It is important to start well in order to finish well. Nevertheless at whatever stage you find yourself in, it is never too late to pick yourself up and get back on track. Be deliberate about making an impact wherever you find yourself, I can say that I left my footprint in Babcock University and it also left its impact in my life. In view of all this, do not forget to enjoy yourself and have fun in the process, It’s not all about the serious stuff, but the need to strike a balance. As “all work and no play makes jack a dull boy”, Strive to strike a balance. These principles helped me in attaining academic excellence
There’s a motto that drove me, which was “Be prepared”. Having this in mind, nothing caught me unawares, and I was able to face situations as they came. One way I was always prepared was by studying, I would advise that you know what works best for you.
I personally loved studying when it was quiet, so the library was a good place for me to start, and when it was time to close the library, it meant I would continue studying in the room. This was a bit difficult because of the distractions from other students. Over time, I knew a quiet and serene environment was what worked for me.
I remember when I first started trying to study on my bed, and I would fall asleep. I decided it was time to be deliberate, so studying with a chair and table worked for me.
– Going the Extra Mile
In whatever I found myself doing, I tried to go the extra mile to be the best. Going the extra mile makes you one step ahead. For me, reading ahead of class made life easier, as I could relate better to the courses being taught.
A tip that would help, would be not to over pile your work load; I created time each day/week to study what had been taught. By doing this, I was prepared for quizzes and impromptu tests that sprung up occasionally, and ultimately I was prepared for the examinations.
– Making the right friends
As John Donne said “No man is an island”. There were a mix of people from different backgrounds, religions and culture in school. It is crucial to make the right friends, leverage on them and build your network properly.
My friends helped me in school. I found a group of people who challenged me, encouraged me and inspired me; spend a lot of time with this kind and it will change your life. Remember you cannot accomplish anything on your own, and you will always need the help of others, so keep the right people around you.
– Time Management
Time management was at the core of all things. It is important to know that there is a time for everything and time waits for no one. Proper planning is the bedrock of everything; as there should be a time to wake up, eat, sleep, read, relax, etc. Each allocated time should be respected and strictly adhered to.
– Don’t get too comfortable
I tried every day to be better than what I was the previous day. That was me personally motivating myself. I did not wait for others to motivate me. I knew what I wanted, in terms of what I wanted to achieve and I encouraged myself in line with this. I always wanted to be the best in all things. To be the best, meant I had to work harder. So with more success, comes more work. A lot of people start well, and along the line get too comfortable with their already attained success and don’t finish well. Always try to be better every day and do not rest on your oars. Break your limits and never see your present success as the final destination.
– Prayer is Key
Pray about everything and anything. Prayer for me is communication with God. I talked to him like I would any of my friends. I told him about that dream I had for myself, and where I saw myself; eventually I watched him turn it into a reality. I remember some courses that were perceived as difficult, then Philippians 4:13 (“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”) would encourage me and backing up my faith with works was one thing that always worked- Remember “faith without works is dead”. Even the little things that you feel is too small-scale for God is not, sometimes I just needed him for strength to study and He was always there.
– Doing the right thing at the right time
I was disciplined enough to do the right things at the right time. There are certain things you may have to deprive yourself of during your course, in order to enjoy later. I remember depriving myself of watching movies in school, just so I could focus on important things. Now I can look back and see that it was worth it. Yes! I can watch all the movies I desire now.
Remember the Journey to success is an ever continuing one; the sky is just the starting point, so SEE YOU AT THE TOP!!
• And what expectations should they or prospective students have about studying accounting in Nigeria?
At the end of the day, I believe your output is a product of your input, together with a secret weapon called the “God factor”. I studied accounting in Nigeria, whilst I also knew some friends who studied it abroad. We were taught the same things (same principles, same concepts, and same theories).
Just because you are about to or currently studying accounting in Nigeria, does not mean others who are studying it somewhere else are superior to you in anyway or that you will get less out of your University experience. Determine in your mind, that wherever you find yourself, you will make the most and best of it. I would advise having an open mind and enjoying the positive aspects of the Nigerian university experience.
• About the ICAN exams, I know they are a pain in the neck of accounting students, do you think taking the exams is necessary, and why?
From my experience in writing exams, the joy of passing is incomparable to the associated pain. A lot of people want it easy, they would just want to attain the certifications for free, without any effort, what so ever. In the actual sense taking the ICAN exams is not a pain. If by pain you mean studying and devoting time, then those are things that are necessary to pass the exams or any exams for that matter. So set your eyes on the goal. The “pain” in quote will never kill you, it would only make you better and bring forth beautiful things.
The ICAN exams, are professional exams which I feel cover much more than you are taught in school, and after successful completion of the exams certifying you a chartered accountant. The answer to whether it is necessary or not, is to ask yourself what differentiates you from the thousands of other students who also studied or are studying accounting. If nothing, then you need to be extra and strive for greater.
It’s a different ball game once you are in the job market, and you have to compete for jobs with your peers who have the same degree as you. These are things that can differentiate you and set you apart from the multitude.
They do not come easy, you need to put in the work and most importantly believe in yourself. My ICAN journey is a story for another time.
The most common question people ask me, is “How do you do it” and what I have to say is that I do it, by Just doing it like the Nike slogan would say. Most times we find ourselves giving a long list of excuses of why we cannot do something, than taking that bold step to actually do the thing.
Fear is a limiting factor that keeps you from reaching your potential or attaining greatness. My advice to you, is to break that limiting factor and just go for what you want and never let your past failures hold you down. I personally see failure as an opportunity to do that thing better than you did it the first time. No two persons are the same and each person’s journey is different, so never put yourself down by comparing yourself with others. So if you need to enroll or study for a professional exam in the accountancy field, the best time to do so is NOW.
• So, what’s going on with you now?
Haha, what’s going on now is that I am chasing my dreams, I have started my career in this thing called the adult life; “I’m adulting”. I do not have it all figured out, but it’s a journey and I am figuring it out as I go along, taking it one step at a time. My advice is to enjoy being in school while it lasts, because once you are done, reality hits you.
Here is a little secret that will help you out, Expect the “what’s next” question from all angles, once you are done with university and even at different phases in your life. As funny as it sounds, even your peers will ask you “what is next?” No need to fear, do not let the world pressure you with their expectations, take it one step at a time and strive to be better each day. Remember that “Life is a journey, not a destination”.
• Last question, tell us your best and worst experiences in school.
I would start with some of my best experiences in school, which were times I won awards for academic excellence cutting across my 100 level till I graduated, the whole final year project experience together with when I got the news I got an A; and times spent with my friends. I don’t recall having any worst experience as I’m an eternal optimist who sees the positives in any challenging experience.
• We sincerely wish you the best in life.
That was one informative interview!
We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.
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