On a beautiful morning in February 2020, I found myself at the O.R. Tambo International Airport, after which I boarded and completed the last part of my journey from Nigeria to the Cape Town International Airport, South Africa. I am to resume with immediate effect at the Department of Sociology, University of Cape Town for my Master’s degree. I later learnt I had missed the university’s orientations, and unfortunately, a week of lecture for my Coursework series.
Going back, I completed my Undergraduate program at Olabisi Onabanjo University in July 2017. At this time, the efforts of my mentor had made me resolute to acquire my postgraduate education outside the shores of my home country. Also, in consideration is a reputable international school that ranks high in global university standing. I am sure my studentship at UCT today is not my input, but of the mercy of Allah and the good people and organizations, like the i-Scholar Initiative (ISI), he provided to ease my journey.
To start with, I could not be mobilized for the compulsory 1-year Nigeria national service – National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) until August 2018. At this time, I had gathered the necessary experience in scholarship applications. Thus, I was optimistic I would resume in Europe and specifically the United Kingdom in September 2019. While applying, I later got to know I would either need a proficiency letter from my undergraduate university or be certified by one of the famous English standardized tests. During my NYSC year, my applications for opportunities can be objectively categorized into Scholarships 60%, Business Grants 20%, International Programs & Internships 10%, Jobs 5%, and Others 5%.
Unfortunately, by July 2019, by which time I have completed my NYSC, I could not resume to any school again. This was because, between March and May of the same year, all the scholarships I applied for had reverted with a ‘Love Letter,’ i.e., a rejection letter. My other applications were also not forthcoming with success; therefore, I had to settle and make a business from my expertise and skills. My skills and knowledge birthed ‘Ultra Solutions’, an emerging academia, research and technology hub. I was engaged in writing research reports, business proposals & plans, and also conduct quantitative data analysis (Excel and SPSS), etc. However, because of my background, the little income from Ultra Solutions could not pay my bills; as I have a lovely family that also depends on me indirectly.
Despite the challenges, I assured myself I am going to sit for either TOEFL/IELTS to increase my chances in scholarship applications, and ultimately, success. I could not hold my joy on October 17 2019, when I received a congratulatory email from ISI on my GRE-sponsorship application. Later on, I completed the registration process. Little did I know that being accepted for ISI also came with many perks attached. I connected very quickly with fellow scholars and scholarship hunters, and our individual sponsors who are doing well in their private businesses and employment contracts globally. The same date I wrote my GRE examination was the same date I received a congratulatory email from the Mastercard Foundation (MCF) Scholar’s Program at UCT.
Despite being accepted by MCF, I was unsure if I would go; therefore, I continued with my USA and EU applications, and responded appropriately to MCF. Successively, I had to make the crucial decision to resume at the UCT. ISI’s guidance and mentorship was instrumental to my final decision and many thanks to Dr Femi Akanbi, and Mr. Victor. I cannot but be thankful to God, my parents, mentors, relatives, and friends. I show gratitude to every ISI stakeholder for the huge and herculean determination to better the lives of the average Nigerian scholars. I am sure ISI has prepared and exposed me for a probable PhD education in America.