By Seyi K., MPP Tutor

Professor Segun Gbadegesin was positioned in the Department of Philosophy at Howard University from 1992 through 2016, when he retired.  He has always been dedicated to the growth and significant development of his students and he is held in high regard within the Howard community as a result of his many contributions in philosophy and research. Outside of his professorial responsibilities, Prof. Gbadegesin is also an author who focuses on analyzing Nigerian affairs. My Private Professor was able to ask the Prof. Gbadegesin a few questions to which the answers may be incredibly valuable for any current or potential university students.


When did you decide to venture into the education field and what were the steps you took in your professional journey?

Prof. Segun Gbadegesin:

I have always been a teacher. In 1961, after completing the Secondary Modern School program, I was appointed as a pupil teacher by the headmaster of my elementary school who also served then as a Member of Parliament in the old Western Nigeria. He paid me directly from his pocket.

From 1962 to 1963, I was in the Teacher’s Grade III Certificate program I service as a trained teacher. From January 1966 to December 1967, I trained as a Grade II Teacher. In January 1968, I began my service as a Teacher’s Grade II certificate holder.

From September 1970 to June 1974, I was an undergraduate student. From July 1974 to June 1975, I served in the National Youth Service Scheme and I taught in a Teacher Training College during the service year. I went back to the University as a Graduate Assistant in philosophy in January 1976. From January 1977 to November 1980, I was graduate student in philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I resumed as a lecturer at the then University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) in December 1980. From then until my retirement in June 2016, I was an educator.

What were some of the challenges of working with university students?

Prof. Segun Gbadegesin:

It’s exciting to work with both undergraduate and graduate students. They are mature even when it takes them some time to make up their minds about choosing a major. University teaching is usually an exchange of ideas between students and professor. Furthermore, the joy of knowing that one is involved in preparing the next generation of thinkers, researchers, professionals, and teachers is always ennobling. A major challenge is finance because students with limited family resources get distracted from study when they have to juggle work with education.

How would you describe the topic of philosophy to someone who knows nothing about it and may be interested in learning more?

Prof. Segun Gbadegesin:

There are two senses of philosophy. There is the personal sense in which we are all philosophers, provided that we have some ideas about life and what makes it meaningful. There is also a technical sense in which a philosopher is trained in the critical analysis of issues that cannot be resolved by appeal to the empirical method. The questions “What is knowledge?” “Does God exist?” “What is right and what is wrong?” “What is beauty?” are all important questions of life and living. Philosophers are concerned with finding answers to them.

What do you think is a valuable habit for students to develop early?

Prof. Segun Gbadegesin:

Students must have an open mind to new ideas and a readiness to explore them along with professors and fellow students. They should have a timetable that prioritizes daily study while making time for relaxation and extracurricular activities.

How important is a college education?

Prof. Segun Gbadegesin:

First, College education develops the mind and broadens the outlook of a person. Second, a college education prepares a person for a better economic future and possibly financial peace of mind in the long term.

Is technology making education easier to manage, or more difficult?

Prof. Segun Gbadegesin:

Technology presents a mixed effect on education. On one hand, it facilitates the process of education. Without zoom, skype and the Internet, it would be difficult to have virtual classes in this age of pandemic. On the other hand, technology can limit the development of human intellect. The movie “Hidden Figures” highlights the mathematical genius of Mrs. Katherine Johnson at NASA without the aid of computers on which we now rely mostly for every calculation and discovery.

What motivates you to help others?

Prof. Segun Gbadegesin:

I received help from many people growing up. It’s only normal and natural to give back.

How highly do you rate your time at Howard University in terms of the academics and its general structure?

Prof. Segun Gbadegesin:

Howard University’s mission is to bring out the best in students and prepare them for life outside. Howard focuses students on issues of social justice as an important element of college education whether students are prospective engineers, doctors, or humanists.

What is the most important aspect of teaching, to you?

Prof. Segun Gbadegesin:

Teaching and learning are two sides of the same coin. Therefore, I have respect for my students and expect them to give their best in the teaching and learning process. It is important to make students believe in themselves that they can and will succeed.

Is there any advice you would give to students who are interested in pursuing majors in social science?

Prof. Segun Gbadegesin:

This is the simple advice that I give to all students during freshman orientation: “Don’t get into a major because of the prospects of a future financial gain. Look into yourself and ask what excites you most. If you find a discipline that has it, then go for it. What is important is the joy you derive from doing what you like doing.”

Were you involved in any research during your time as a professor?

Prof. Segun Gbadegesin:

I was involved in philosophical research in ethics, bioethics, and political philosophy. The results of these were published in professional journals over the years.

How crucial can application outside of the classroom be for students? For example, in pursuing tutoring and attending office hours?

Prof. Segun Gbadegesin:

Students need to avail themselves of every opportunity to expand their horizon. Classroom periods are generally not adequate for extensive learning. Therefore, professors are happy to see students take advantage of office hours for interaction over issues discussed in class. It is also an opportunity for students and professors to get to know each other more.

A student should take any opportunity for peer tutoring with open hands. It builds up the resume and it’s an unquantifiable experience. Besides, in making yourself available for tutoring, you are also obviously learning more.


Prof. Gbadegesin’s words are a brilliant testimony to the importance of organizations such as My Private Professor.  For 9 years, My Private Professor has been focused on aiding the academic and overall growth of students. I have learned through MPP how valuable pursuing education outside of the classroom is, and it can absolutely make a huge difference to the development of any student.  As a tutor, I can only emphasize how rewarding it is to see my students take leaps forward.


Seyi Kaja-Gbadegesin is a tutor at My Private Professor, which provides individualized online & in-person tutoring to students in all subjects, including K-12 math, science, language arts, history, foreign language, AP exams, test prep, essays, & college counseling, by top tutors from top universities.