In July 2018, I published an article on the pages of The Nation Newspaper titled “The value of Education in Modern Times”, in which I stated my reasons for the degradation of educational value in Nigeria over the years ( http://thenationonlineng.net/value-of-education-in-modern-…/). What I did not know, however, is that there are myriads of well-meaning Nigerians out there, deeply passionate about education. In my several months of seeking scholarship abroad, I have come across individuals and mentors heavily and selflessly investing in the prosperity of the younger generation through educational empowerment.
The i-Scholar Initiative is one of such goal-driven organizations. With motivation-laden guidance, coaching and mentorship, i-Scholar boasts of numerous scholars with fully funded graduate positions to their credit—myself included.
Since December 2018, I had embarked on what seemed like a daunting and frustrating journey toward having my graduate studies abroad. But for innumerable factors, disappointments kept creeping in. When I got selected into the i-Scholar program in September 2019, with sponsorship and guidance, I was able to sit for the GRE and TOEFL tests, which enhanced my eligibility for several scholarship opportunities.
I must say that the parent-like gestures of the sponsors of the i-Scholar program contributed a lot to the success of many of its scholars. With ideas, motivation, and relentless support, we are made to unleash our potentials and become achievers. It is life changing to be part of this coterie.
Added to this is the inspiration one enjoys from the network of scholars in the program. There were times I almost gave up chasing after scholarships, but as my sponsors and colleagues would not give up checking to be sure every scholar is on top of the process, I knew I was in for it and at this point giving up was not option.
This corroborates the popular saying that the realization of every goal is a function of several factors, the most important of which is human. I am therefore sincerely grateful to the founders and partners of this great initiative; without them, this goal might have remained unborn.
To prospective scholars, know this, the journey to securing a fully funded graduate position is not an easy one (don’t be scared, please keep reading). Like everything in life, all it requires is sacrifice and passion. There will be impediments, disappointments and bottlenecks on this voyage; that’s for sure. But as long as you remain persistent, consistent and insistent on what you want, you will get there.
Now as I look back at my journey, it all looks like history. I remember I almost secured a fully funded graduate position, poring over several research papers on Researchgate in preparation for a Skype meeting with a prospective advisor. After exchanging a number of emails, it still ended in disappointment. But being in this program, and with the help of the right mentorship and fellowship, I was encouraged not to give up, and today I’m there.
That is what it becomes in the end. But first, you need to start the process, learn, listen to advice, have a mentor and follow their leads, and of course, don’t give up.
It is also important to note that in some programs, it is almost impossible to get funded without securing an advisor; while some programs do not hinge on that. No matter the number of rejections you receive, keep trying. I have received emails that read “while I must commend your academic credentials, you are not a fit for my lab because of your background”, or “sorry my lab is filled”. Some might even start communicating with you only to stop then all of a sudden.
But if you persist, there would be a day an email that reads “congratulations in your name” will come your inbox. And in that moment, you will forget all the disappointments and rejections.
Let me leave you with this quote from Les Brown: “the harder the battle, the sweeter the victory”. Shalom!
Abdulwahab Mubaraq Olarewaju is a First Class graduate of Crop/Soil Science from Usmanu Danfodiyo University Sokoto, Nigeria. He has a fully funded Erasmus Mundus Scholarship offer. He also has a fully funded MSc offer from KFUPM and admits from UK universities particularly Newcastle University, University of Aberdeen, University of Glasgow and University of Stirling.