Graduation 2020: "The University of Sussex encouraged me to explore different aspects of myself"
In his four years at Sussex, self-confessed class clown Ebenezer Egunlae learnt how to take on more responsibility without losing his sense of fun.
Stepping up to become course representative and student mentor, Ebenezer was able to bring about changes to his course to the benefit of his fellow students as well as helping his peers to overcome difficulties and achieve something special.
He said: “A big moment for me at Sussex was being voted course representative. This was not something I would have expected in a thousand years as I was known to be a class clown of sorts so actually winning this role filled me with pride.
“During one of the modules in my second year there was an accounting module where there was only one way to do the coursework. The majority of students did it this way, but there was a large disparity between the grades people got even though the quality of the work was similar and in some cases nearly identical. After contacting the appropriate people, the coursework was reweighted from 30% to 50% raising a lot of students’ grades for the module.
“I was also lucky enough to be chosen to be a student mentor throughout my second and third years where I was able to help other students with general enquiries and provide one-to-one sessions. A student who I helped academically also managed to graduate with a first this summer. She messaged to say that I had played a part in that success which filled me with a great sense of achievement.”
The 23-year-old Accounting and Finance student is graduating with a first but concedes that he is taking away a lot more from Sussex than just a very impressive qualification he hopes will help him secure a dream graduate job in Mergers and Acquisitions or Deals Advisory.
Ebenezer said: “The university not only offered me the chance to explore myself and grow as a person, but actively encouraged me to develop new skills and aspects of my personality that I wouldn’t have considered before.
“If someone had told me before university I would enjoy playing rugby enough to turn up to training twice a week or that I would have passed my piano exam, I probably would have laughed in their face. But the University of Sussex encouraged me to explore these different aspects of myself and I wouldn’t have even contemplated liking these if I had not come to this university.
“I’ve always been considered the class clown, never taking anything seriously. I wouldn’t say that being at university has changed my personality but now I take standing up for those who cannot necessarily stand up for themselves a lot more seriously.”
Like the rest of his class of 2020, Ebenezer has mixed feelings about his time at Sussex ending during a global pandemic and graduating in circumstances he never envisaged.
He said: “Graduating during the global pandemic feels strange. It was difficult to work whilst surrounded with so much uncertainty, but it also made it a lot harder for me and my revision partners to stay in contact during it to work effectively.
“There is a feeling of loss, not only for myself but I imagine final year students everywhere, as Covid-19 has taken away a lot of things we were looking forward to celebrate. We lost a term with our beloved campus, the library especially for myself, the graduation ceremony, dissertation day, final goodbyes with international friends, going on tour with the rugby team and much, much more. Despite all of this, the University of Sussex, was the best university for me and I wouldn’t change a single second of the experience except maybe the pandemic itself.”