Some two years ago, Nigeria’s leading media group, *ThisDay*, in its characteristic ingenuity, unveiled *‘THISDAY LIFE LESSONS’*, an online learning and networking platform specially created to allow free, undoctored, uncluttered flow of concepts, ideas and information on all the key wheels of life: Spiritual, Finance, Health, Business, Career, Relationship, Fun -Time, Community Contribution and Mind Development.
That same platform has made measurable developmental impact on its members since inception. For instance, a good number of members of LLS, seized the opportunity of time offered by the Covid-19 pandemic to acquire certifications from Causera, a leading US based online learning platform, in different fields of life to get them better prepared for life after the pandemic,Bamidele Famoofo writes.

Without any iota of doubt, the purpose for which the *THISDAY LIFE LESSONS* was created some two years ago is being achieved, gradually. Going by the testimonies of the beneficiaries, lives are being transformed as members practice the lessons learnt on the platform.
Some of the men and women who have followed religiously the lessons on the platform took the bull by the horn during the Covid-19 lockdown to better position themselves for opportunities that would emerge after the pandemic rather than throwing up their hands up in fear and hopelessness-as many people, unfortunately, have done.

Editor-at-Large, *THISDAY* Newspaper, and Executive Editor, LLS, *Ayo Arowolo*, disclosed the motivation behind the choice of some members to go for certifications during the Covid-19 compulsory holiday: “Running with the information we shared on the *THISDAY LIFE LESSONS* platform about six weeks ago about FREE online courses offered by Cousera, a US-based online learning centre, some have gone ahead to obtain certifications they have started to use to affect their communities and influence their friends.”

According to Arowolo, “there are two amazing couples who among the lot that have acquired over 13 certifications…and they are still counting!”

Ronke Stephen-Asojo, an Investment Banker and a Fashionpreneur, was very determined as she went on and on until she acquired nine certifications to her credit. This incredible LLS member who also teaches and trains youths and young wives in her local church and community about hard choices to make about their dreams and their goals and how they can empower themselves with their finances to help reach these goals and dreams, learnt about the Coursera online courses through *THISDAY LIFE LESSONS* platform. She was subsequently added to the *COURSERA HELP DESK* platform created by the platform where participants were being guided on how to go about the COURSERA certifications.

The real motivation for Ronke came from one of the assigned *LLS-ADVISORS* on the platform who shared his experience of garnering 29 certifications within eight months. Her words: “I was highly motivated by this being someone that loves challenges and arduous tasks. My husband encouraged me and he also was initiated alongside when he saw the way I was going about the learning curve. The push and the motivation given by the advisors on the platform are tremendous and this has been fuelling my zeal and yearning to upgrade and hone my skills during the lockdown.”

“As at today I have been able to earn nine certifications within a month and with many more to come. Out of the nine courses, I got two certificates using financial aid as the techniques for applying for financial aid were extensively taught on the Coursera Help Desk.”

In fact, Ronke has already put in for a financial aid for a course which can help her to process an application for the University of London Global MBA.

Now Ronke is knowledgeable in the fields of Personal and Family Financial Planning, Planning for Young Adults, Behavioral Finance, Converting Challenges to Opportunities and The Science of Success. The other fields where she was certified include Personal Branding, Successful Career Development, Introduction to Coding and Fundamentals of Sales and Marketing with Goldman Sachs 10,000 women.

“I have so learnt that this season is truly a testament that a crisis is also an opportunity. Crisis/disruption with its attendant negative consequences should not only be approached as a threat but also as an opportunity. By default we try to focus our energy in the middle of a crisis to protecting ourselves against the negatives rather than exploiting the positives which are this Coursera courses and other online courses,” a visibly delighted Ronke told *THISDAY LLS*.

Though Okoh Olayinka was not ignorant of the opportunities of learning offered by Coursera and other MOOC platforms, it was *THISDAY LLS* that opened his eyes to the fact that he could get financial aid to obtain certificates without having to dispense with his personal cash. His testimony: “Before now, I had been aware of courses on Coursera and other MOOC platforms. But I was only aware that one has to pay to access the courses in an unlimited manner. It was unknown to me that I can seek financial aid for the courses. All that changed, during this COVID-19 pandemic, consequent to the information shared on this platform and most importantly the guidance provided by the *THISDAY LIFE LESSONS ADVISORS* assigned to guide us. They gave us tips on how to apply for financial aids. The tips worked!”

“Based on my new knowledge, I applied for financial aid on “Genomic Data Analysis”, and applied for one free course – Data Science Maths skills, as that will help me in my career as a researcher. After that, I applied for two courses, since my financial aid was yet to be approved, and took them concurrently. Today I have completed five (5) courses, my financial aid has been approved, and I am taking three courses concurrently at the moment. It didn’t stop there; my wife who is a programmer is also running a course on Artificial Intelligence at the moment,” he said.

Olayinka disclosed that the courses he took have really helped his career and family. “As a Life Science Lecturer and Researcher, “Data Science Maths skill” and “Pandemic, Epidemic and Outbreak” have contributed to my Public Health and Life Science knowledge and shaped how I will conduct research and analyze my data. “Personal Branding” and “Successful Career Development” have exposed me to salient ways to build my career, publicize my works and make a difference; while “Personal & Family Financial Planning” has really helped me understand better how to organize my finances. It also deepened my understanding of what some of the coaches on LLS have been teaching on personal finance. The certificates for the courses I have completed are below.”

Agbetunsin Oluwaseun, author, public speaker and pastor was one of the beneficiaries of the courses offered by Cousera. He has so far obtained four certifications from Coursera, and he hopes to obtain more certificates before long.

“I cannot but mention the motivation provided by *Thisday LLS Advisors* during the journey. The offer of giving anyone who obtains two certificates or more to have a dinner with one of the Thisday LLS Advisors was a big motivator. Having been privileged to benefit from such offer before on the Thisday LLS platform (a dinner with Prince Yemisi Shyllon), I decided not to be left behind,” Oluwaseun enthused.

Itohan Iroro, a Lawyer, Chartered secretary and Arbitrator was not left out in the personal development programme powered by LLS. she has now acquired knowledge in Personal Family Financial Planning, Introduction to personal Branding, Mindshift: Break through obstacle to learning, Team skills: communicating effectively, Communication strategy for virtual age, and Introduction to intellectual property.

Other members who also converted the lockdown were : Mrs Ibukun Orowade, who got a certification in personal branding; Kayode; Femi Komolafe who got a certification in social innovation; Kunle Stephen Asojo, Kemi Arowojolu who obtained six certifications and Wale Arowojolu

But a greater accolade should go to Olawale Thomas who led other THISDAY Life Lessons Advisors to serve on the help desk created to help apply successfully for the coursera certifcations. Wale says: ‘when you help others , you are actually helping yourself.

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