Colin Powell once said: “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure”. One of my goals for 2019 was to write the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Exam as a requirement for some scholarships. I was given an insight into applying for an international postgraduate study by one of my mentors, who gave me the requirements of each country and the necessary tests I needed to take. Schools in the United Kingdom (UK) were the priority on my list cause most scholarships are targeted for UK schools and I hope to apply for them. Given this, I had started preparation and savings to take IELTS.
During my National Youth Service, a friend (who is also a beneficiary of this initiative) told me about i-Scholar Initiative (ISI) sponsoring scholars who are not financially buoyant to take Graduate Record Examination (GRE) in pursuit of their graduate studies. He emboldened me to apply and broadened my scope of application to schools in the United States of America (USA). I was informed of this sponsorship in the last week of the deadline. Being well prepared, I assembled all the necessary documents and put forward my application on the last day (August 30, 2019) and hoped for the best.
After the submission of my application, I knew I had to start my preparation for the test, so I got prep materials and advice from people who had written the test; anticipating the sponsorship. I was crestfallen when the list of sponsored scholars came out and I couldn’t make it. I lost interest in the test preparation and applying for USA schools as I knew I won’t be able to afford it along with the IELTS I intended to write. Asking my parents for the fee wasn’t going to be productive, as they had toiled hard to put me through college.
My friend who introduced me to this Initiative was among the first ten sponsored scholars, he kept encouraging me not to lose hope because some scholars were kept on a waiting list and that I could be one of them. Few weeks after the first list was released, my friend notified me to check Mr. Victor Ogunmola’s Facebook page; that my name was unlocked, as the next sponsor was interested in the next female on the list, of which it was me. My joy knew no bounds after this news but I knew I had to go back to my prep board and do double prep cause I had lost much prep time since I felt I wouldn’t be sponsored.
Few weeks into my GRE preparation, I also received an additional Test of English as Foreign Language (TOEFL) sponsorship from this initiative. The full package sponsorship made my year goal and the need for me to write IELTS was no longer necessary. Knowing that the reward for hard work is more work, I had to boost my prep and exert myself as I wouldn’t want to let the Initiative down. I joined a WhatsApp group of GREAcres, which created a drive for me to prepare harder. The savings I had put together for IELTS were then converted to school application fees, after receiving my test scores.
Ever since I became a scholar of the ISI, I have been better mentored on the choice of schools and their requirements. The full graduate test sponsorship and support (financial, moral and mentorship) from experienced scholars, coaches and sponsors were immense. We were advised and guided on how to approach the application processes, also encouraged whenever we felt dejected after receiving ‘love letters’ (rejections) from schools. During all these processes, we were allowed to make decisions ourselves; nothing was imposed on us. My appreciation goes to Mr. Victor Ogunmola, Dr. Olufemi Akanbi, Mr. Demola Lanisa, Mr. Newton Samagbeyi and other sponsors, for the opportunity to be part of this great and fruitful Initiative.
Ab-initio, three scholars were to be sponsored but as many saw the vision of this initiative and became partner, a total of twenty scholars were sponsored for GRE and seven out of us were also funded for TOEFL. Being a beneficiary of the maiden edition of the i-Scholar Initiative (ISI) was one of the best things that happened to me in 2019.
To all Class of ’19 ISI Scholars, congratulations to us and more is expected of us.
ADVICE TO UNDERGRADUATE SCHOLARS: Maintain a good and healthy relationship with your lecturers in school, as you will need them for recommendations. Also, try to write at least a technical paper and get it published before/as soon as you graduate; this will boost your profile in all your applications.