My name is Haniel Nkadi a graduate (B.Sc.) of Microbiology, Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria. My hobbies include studying, poetry, and photography; I am also a big fan of Nat Geo Wild and I have a peculiar interest in studying human cancers. The i- Scholar Initiative (ISI) scholarship was my first “win” and this meant a great deal to me.
After so many other scholarship rejections in 2019 and the first quarter of 2020, I felt discouraged. I decided to sit the GRE and TOEFL examinations with the hope that I would be able to save up the examination fees till I saw the i-Scholar Initiative’s call for applications.
At first, I felt it was not real, but decided to trust my guts more than my head – after all, science says our gut is our second brain. I applied and got selected. It was one great win for me.
Being part of the i-Scholars Initiative program came with so many benefits. Apart from the obvious, payment of my standardized test fees, the mentor I was assigned to, Dr. Akanbi, played a huge role in correcting errors in my application. I was usually reluctant to send emails to professors before applying but then, he corrected that notion. Even during my interviews, he kept reaching out to me to find out my progress. His efforts came with results as I will be heading to Shreveport, Louisiana this fall for my graduate study at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Centre (LSUHSC).
My advice to prospective graduate school applicants – Firstly, avoid competing with your peers, your real competition is the world. If you see opportunities to help your friends, please do. Help them study, share opportunities, etc. You may not embrace success early if you compete with everyone in your circle. Secondly, strive to make “you” better every day. That way you feel these bouts of fulfillment that put smiles on your face. Thirdly, your application is a full package. Focus more on things you can change, even if you graduated with a “low” GPA, shove it in one corner, and focus on modifiable parts of your application: GRE, TOEFL, CV, work and research experience, and performance during your interviews. Lastly, the journey is not for the faint-hearted. You gave to be dogged and intentional. If it doesn’t come the first time, the second will be the charm. And if the second is not exactly as charming as it should be, try the third. Do not give up.
I want to say a big “thank you” to the i-Scholars Initiative team for the selfless efforts they put together to give people like me a chance at graduate school application. I would also love to say thanks to Dr. Akanbi for his kind words and advice throughout my graduate school application process.