From An Ordinary Dream To A Reality: Interview with Peter Olaniyi, Licensee TEDxLAUTECH
Welcome to Cephas Insights, Sir
Can we meet you?
I'm Peter Olaniyi, a 300-level A medical student at Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso.
Interesting, we're having another medic here on this platform.
What inspired the TEDx LAUTECH?
Any special encounter?
Just like every other great things that we see today, this also started as an idea. It started in 2020, around the COVID-19 period. That was after I spent a year on campus.
I've been to some other institutions in Nigeria especially in the Southwest like UI, OAU and I noticed the trend of things there and the type of activities students engage in.
But on getting to LAUTECH, it seems a lot different. It was somehow odd to me. As Ladokites, we tend to give ourselves more to social gatherings than intellectual gatherings.
For people like me who are not the social type, I do not find interest in partying, clubbing, and the likes. It was choking for me. I was vexed at some point. I'm not trying to say that social gatherings are bad, of course that's a way of relieving stress for some people. It's just that I do not really find interest in them, so that birthed the idea.
As individuals, it's very easy for us to spot a problem or things that need to be changed in our community. But the truth is that, as individuals, we tend to wait for someone else, like superheroes, to come and create a solution to the problem we see.
As Nigerians, we believe we deserve a better and more accountable government but what are we doing as Nigerians to change the narrative?
What are you doing?
That was actually what geared me up.
I saw a problem and I was willing to effect the change.
I came up with a solution of organizing a conference (although not initially a TEDx conference).
It was a bit frustrating because I was just trying to find my balance in medical school as a 200L student. I wasn't even a popular guy so I didn't know how to go about it but then I kept on thinking about it until late 2020 when I saw a post on LinkedIn about someone that organised a TEDx event in a school.
I've been a lover of TED talks, but then I didn't know that it is something that could be organized in Nigeria. I thought TEDx events are only for the whites. So, after seeing the post, I started digging deeper.
I and Praise Ogunleke volunteered for a CMDA outreach, we had roles to play in organizing the outreach. On this particular day, we were on a scouting trip for the outreach. I was sitting right beside Praise at the back of the bus and the conversation started again about how displeased we are with the situation of things.
Even if we want to attend intellectual events or conferences, it's always very burdensome on our part, because we had to travel down to nearby cities. After all, we do not have the setting here in LAUTECH. It's always an extra cost for us.
We were talking and I told him I had something on my mind. I was somehow reluctant to share but he insisted that I tell him. So, I told him about having TEDxLAUTECH. He said this particular thing has also been in his mind and that there is something we can do.
I had worries and fears, especially about medical school but Praise affirmed that "we can do it" and that I should make more findings about it which I eventually did.
I was trying to calculate when my MBBS exams would be but Praise said we should just go ahead and apply.
We applied for the license the first time, we got a NO!
Praise advised we do it again and then we reached out to some other organizers at TEDxBodija, and TEDxUCH , they gave us some tips. Then we applied again...
I and Praise was coming back from a conference in Ilorin, and then I saw that our application was successful. I shouted!
We were happy and at the same time, there were doubts.
We prayed and thanked God. We didn’t want to jump into the planning just yet. So, we took a break and fixed a meeting for a week or two after.
We had series of meetings. Along the line, Praise met Adeshina Esther who also happened to be planning for something like this. In fact, She had already paid for a class on how to organize a TEDx event.
Initially, we were trying to hide it . We are medical students; we did not want anyone to water down our vision.
When Praise told me, we agreed to inform her and bring her on board. I believe someone that has gone this far in planning definitely has the vision captured in her heart.
We brought her on board and made her the General Secretary.
We usually meet three times a week for hours, some online and some physical, until we put out the application for volunteers. Praise was our graphics designer then.
Even at that, we spent our money. We didn't want to conduct the interviews ourselves due to familiarity. So, we had to reach out to people that could help.
Meet Praise, Esther, and Peter in a joyful mood after the event
Oh! Why LAUTECH and not somewhere else?
Why not TEDx Ogbomoso?
We also thought of this while we were trying to apply for the license, but we considered some factors and that's why we went with LAUTECH.
One of the factors considered was that we already have a TEDx event in Ogbomoso, that's TEDxIsaleGeneral, we were not willing to replicate that.
We were also trying to consider our audience, and our audience was not the Ogbomoso community but LAUTECH. We were trying to create a change in LAUTECH and not Ogbomoso.
Another thing was inclusiveness. The fact that this is TEDxLAUTECH means it’s for the LAUTECH community.
The fact that LAUTECH is on the name also gave us access to some things.
As a medical student, going for this herculean task sounds like a crazy idea.
What was going on in your mind as regards this when you started all out?
Was there a clash of interest between TEDx and Medicine?
Yes! There was and there'll always be.
The fact that you're trying to add something else to medicine means that you are in for a war. That's just automatic. Medicine is a jealous wife, it'll always want to choke other aspects of your life including your spiritual and social life.
I was constantly thinking of my academics, right from the start. it wasn't easy because medicine is a world on its own.
Whenever anyone of us is having exams, we take a break just to allow ourselves prepare for the exams.
It was all about academics, and how I hope to survive and balance these things.
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Medicine indeed is a jealous wife.
Just some moments away from TEDx now...
Why medicine in the first place?
Was it your parents decision?
Or because of money?
I've always loved medicine even right from my childhood school days, I had always wanted to be a doctor.
It's also partly because of the money. Yes!
Although on getting to medical school, I began to realize that there's really no money in medicine, in fact it's better to go for a tech-related space if you want the money.
It was never my parents' decision.
And I still love it anyways
Medical students are believed to be bookish
Do you believe in that?
What do you do to have fun?
I'll like to say this first, I don't believe in a universal ideology. I have a set of principles guiding my actions and activities, and that does not mean every other person has to abide by this principle.
It may work for others. And it may not.
I don't believe there's a predetermined way a medical student should live, not all medical students will be bookish, and not all medical students will invest their time into social impact or some other things.
But I will advise that try as much as possible to make the most out of your med school, these are your prime days, once you lose it, you'll never regain it. It's not a curse. It's just the truth.
As early as possible, Know what you want out of life or what you to become in life. You might not have a clear picture of how everything will align to make perfect sense, but at least, know what you want.
Not every one in med school will eventually become a medical doctor.
Some will end up in an entirely different career. Some as actors, businessmen and women, clerics, and bankers. Medicine is not an end but a means to an end.
Know what you want in life and pursue it.
Bishop David Oyedepo is known today not because of what he studied at school but because of his ministry, imagine if he had not yielded to the call of ministry, he would have probably become another Nigerian man.
A lot of people might be into the social impact space, but that doesn't mean they'll be better off in the future than you
We all have different career paths, and we all need to undergo different training Although, the academic training might just be the same for now.
So, I don't believe all medical students are bookish. I'm not a book book type. Lol
For the activities I engage in for fun, I play games, indoor games, chess is my best game because it gives me the avenue to think, and it sharpens my critical thinking skills. I play Scrabble, solve puzzles, I listen to music, I play drums, although it's been long, I watch movies and I read books.
Will you be willing to practice as medical doctor?
I wouldn't say I have a definite answer yet.
I'm still on the journey of figuring out life, what I like and what I don't.
As it stands, I would love to practice medicine, because this is what I was called into.
In the nearest future, if God is saying something else, I have no choice but to go for that
Back to TEDx again...
What do you think was the greatest challenge?
What was your main fear?
Having to bring TEDx to LAUTECH was a big challenge on its own. We had several challenges but the first main challenge that we had was getting people that truly understand the vision.
We had to constantly tell people what TEDxLAUTECH is. I could remember then that, we had to create voice notes explaining what TEDx is, and send them to those asking questions,
When the purpose of a thing is not known, abuse is inevitable.
That was the first challenge we had.
My fear was actually having the event play out the way I didn't envision it. I already had a picture in my mind of how I wanted everything to work. I knew that to get something like this done, I need people, people that understand the vision. Money and time were also a factor.
How do I get people, time, and money, especially in this type of environment?
At a point, you must have felt like giving up, which you didn't do.
How did you overcome the thoughts of giving up?
During the course of the planning, I had a whole lot of personal challenges. Just like you said, at a point, I felt like letting go, not because the effort was not worth it but because the challenges were so overwhelming.
But one thing I would say that helped me in those black moments was the grace of God, that's the ultimate! I can't deny that fact.
Another thing was that the vision had captured my heart, that was like the motivation through those moments.
But ultimately, it was the grace of God.
Definitely, right from the start of the journey, you must have encountered several rejections and disappointments 🙃
Can you give instances?
We encountered several rejections, we got rejected on our first attempt to get the license.
Away from that, we got several rejections from sponsors. There was a time I had to personally sit down for a whole day and send messages and emails to companies and organizations. I did not get any response.
I repeated that for some days before I eventually stopped.
Praise did too.
There was a time I literally walked the streets of Under-G up and down, spending my money alongside Mr Olufemi (the Logistics Team lead). People that showed interest to sponsor our event did not eventually drop anything.
We sent hundreds of emails, all to no avail.
We also got rejections from speakers. Some of our speakers pulled out days before the event, this was after they had already accepted our invitation.
But we never stopped shooting more shots.
Throughout the process, I've learnt a whole lot. Rejection does not affect you, inaction does.
It may be hurtful, and painful because you might have laboured over it.
We got rejected and we had to restrategize and make some adjustments.
Eventually, we got something nice.
Imagine if we did not act because we got rejected.
Rejection does not affect. It only strengthens you for a better comeback.
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Bringing the likes of Tunde Onakoya, Aproko doctor and co to a place like Ogbomoso was a big win
How was it like? What was your confidence?
Were you scared?
I wouldn't say I was scared, to be very honest.
But I had a lot of questions popping up in my mind because we had 13 speakers and we needed to cater for the accommodation and welfarism of more than half of them.
We were 30 on the team and we had 13 speakers so we needed more hands.
Eventually, we had to be very strategic about it.
Here we are. We thank God.
Organizing an event like this requires a great level of emotional intelligence.
There would have been expression of anger, depression and anxiety, even while managing the team.
How did you navigate through?
To be very honest, there were moments like this, especially with team members. When they're not carrying out their activities as expected, I tend to have issues with them. Because I believe, you're slowing us down.
But another thing is to look at the bright side of things. I've learnt to empathize with people and as much as possible put myself in their shoes. Of course, they're not machines, they're human beings like I am.
There was a particular time when the planning was very hot, some of our team members had to leave for NYSC camp, and they had core roles and I can't tell them not to leave.
One of the volunteers even suggested that he should wait, but then I told him to go because I can't because of an event tell him to stop his life.
Empathy is the word here.
History was made!
It was the maiden event, and it turned out to be a great success?
How do you feel?
Yes ooo, I feel energetic, fulfilled, and successful. There's this feeling that comes with seeing your efforts eventually pay off.
I feel really really great, on top of the world
What should we be expecting from TEDxLAUTECH after this event?
Expect more, expect greater things, expect mind-blowing stuff, not only from TEDx LAUTECH but LAUTECH generally.
TEDx was brought to LAUTECH to create a change and this is what I hope to see happen.
I want to see people come up with other creative ideas and solutions to problems
I want to see events like this with the same quality and excellence come up in every corner in LAUTECH.
As a patriotic citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, are you willing to stay or japa?
I honestly would want to leave the country.
My decision is not just to add to the statistics or the trend of people leaving the country.
The truth is, I want a better life for myself and my future self, I mean my unborn kids and future wife.
To be honest, I've looked around and I don't see Nigeria providing that at the moment.
The situation of things in the country is getting worse day after day. It's very risky living in this country.
Apart from the fact that they're not paying you enough for your services, it is still required of you to constantly watch your back whenever you walk. Now, I'm talking about the insecurity in the country.
To be very honest, I don't see myself living in this country.
I'm still praying to God because I don't have it figured all out yet.
I would love to support Nigeria from outside, just like some other people are doing 😅. Of course, home will still be home, you can't change that fact, but I would love to support this nation from outside. Lol
Interesting, Already preparing for the lucky woman and the unborn kids, let's just wrap it with this.
To our amazing fans reading this, what do you have to say to them?
Dream big, Dream more.
Change begins from the inside, and the desire to see the change always metamorphose into something better
Don't stop dreaming.
Don't only dream, but also chase your dreams.
Thank you so much for giving me the privilege to share my story here on this platform
Meet the TEDxLAUTECH team
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