i-Scholar Initiative -Scorecard Series XVI –In retrospect to a Saturday afternoon on 3rd August 2019, a day where I found hope from a Facebook post by Mr. Victor Ogunmola. At first, I was surprised some persons could invest in the life of young Nigerians by obtaining the “Almighty GRE” to help achieve their dreams. Attempting the GRE has always been a priority but getting required funds was a big dent on the dream.
As a first generation student and the first born in a polygamous family, I was privileged to have had a University education and my parents already made it known that is the best they could offer me, in order to be able to support my teeming younger siblings through schools.
I graduated with a first class honours in Industrial Chemistry. Without prolonged hesitation, I submitted my application few days after I found the Facebook post. Unfortunately for me, I wasn’t included in the list of first 10 beneficiaries, but as soon as more benevolent sponsors provided funds, I got selected in September and wrote the GRE in November.
The i-scholar initiative is a big family with sponsors from various spheres of life and profession, and aside the Graduate Exam sponsorship provided, these benevolent sponsors also share their career growth, stories and achievements with the young scholars; I believe this cheerful act is an integral value that makes the initiative a fertile platform for scholars’ career development.
The mentorship of Dr. Olufemi Akanbi and other partners has propelled me to further extend my tentacles of opportunity as I currently hold unconditional offers from four(4) UK universities, one in France and one in Belgium, although they all come with no funding. I also patiently await decisions from my application to US Universities.
To prospective i-scholars, endeavour to fully harvest the rare opportunity this initiative will avail you; I believe your drives in the pursuit of success will take you places.
i-Scholar Initiative -Scorecard Series XV – 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.
i-Scholar Initiative -Scorecard Series XIV –I studied Food Science and Technology in the University and graduated with a First Class. As the oldest in a family of three, I have always wanted to study abroad to kick-start my career, contribute immensely to food security and set a reasonable pace for my siblings. I have been in search of opportunities since my final year in the university and most of such juicy scholarships have always required standardized test.
As I couldn’t raise any test fee, I never bothered to check schools in the United States. I was limited to quite a small number of opportunities which were partial scholarship.
In 2019, I applied to schools in Europe and got a partial scholarship for one. I knew I couldn’t get my parents to help, since my younger ones are still in school. I kept hoping for better opportunities.
Later that year, I saw a post about i-Scholar Initiative opportunity on a WhatsApp scholarship group I belong to. Though almost late, I applied on the last day. I was glad I got the sponsorship and I started preparing for my Graduate Record Examination (GRE). At the same time, I started my school search with the help of the sponsors. I was worried about how to get funds for my English test. Follow up and advices from Dr. Femi and Mr. Victor never made me forget to push more to settle the English test and successfully write my GRE.
Although I don’t have my admission yet since application is still on-going for the schools I applied to. Nevertheless, I hope and pray for the best. Thanks to all our amiable sponsors and generous partners for their supports, concerns and advice. This is possible because of you with the help of God. And because of all your sacrifices, I just couldn’t give up even when I was yet to write an English test. To others reading this, every opportunity counts, make sure to use them to the fullest. No matter how slow the process might be, we keep moving and succeeding.
i-Scholar Initiative -Scorecard Series XIII – After my MSc graduation a few years back, I set my sight on building a career in environmental protection with Nigeria’s apex environment watchdog. No honour is greater than the privilege of serving our people and ensuring Nigerians live in safe, healthy environment. So, I initially did not think much of immediately going for my Ph.D. as I felt there was still so much to be done, contributing to the tasks back home. In retrospect, I would say, back then, I did not know as much as I do now. But the intervening period has afforded me vintage understanding of Nigeria’s environmental and social challenges, approaches and policies as well as the privilege, in modest ways, of contributing my quota to the solutions we seek in environmental monitoring, water governance, waste management and climate resilience.
Last year, I decided to take it more seriously. I was ready to throw my hat into the ring and apply just the same way I had successfully assisted quite a number of people apply through Wastesmart Initiative, a community platform I started and served. But there was a serious problem. I was financially stretched at the time last year, no thanks to some excruciating administrative hiccups. Serving often comes at a cost sometimes. I remember I and some colleagues would fantasize about writing GRE, TOEFL and IELTS. Despite our anticipation and preparation, we could not raise the exam fees, but not because we did not desire to. Sadly, last year and till date, none of the other guys (all public servants) has been able to write any of the three exams because they could not raise the needed funds. I was able to write the GRE thanks to the “i-Scholar Initiative”. You could imagine my joy when I got an email from Uncle Victor informing me of my selection for the scholarship. I successfully wrote the GRE last November; the rest, like they say, is history.
In the past few weeks, I am grateful to have been selected for full and partial scholarships in Germany, South Africa and the US while some more decisions are still being expected. I should also add that there have been highs and lows, and some tough decisions have had to be made for the greater good. However, this feat would not have been possible without the support and push from the “i-Scholar Initiative”. I am most grateful for the support, selflessness and mentorship from Uncle Victor and Dr. Femi. I also deeply thank all the sponsors and partners of this project. It is a good investment.
Lastly, to young people reading this, dreams come true. But it is also important you set out early to pursue your dream as the bar usually gets higher as the years go by. But rest assured, at whatever point you are currently in your career, if you want it passionately enough, good things will come to you. I hope other young public servants desirous of excellence and better skills for bigger impact would also have this unique privilege. Like the “i-scholar Initiative”, this is one of the goals I am committing myself to; democratizing opportunities.
i-Scholar Initiative -Scorecard Series XII – I officially launched my graduate school pursuit on the 4th of August 2019 when I came across the life-changing post “a call for applications” on one of the scholarship platforms I belong to. Then, the whole idea of having someone pay for my GRE test was a completely strange one, I couldn’t imagine someone who is not a family, someone who I have not met before to underwrite my bills. I starred the message, and embarked on a quick background check on the individuals involved, and I found out that they were very reputable personalities from various works of life, “anyways, what do I have to lose”?
I began gathering the requisite documents (Recommendation Letter, Statement of Purpose, and Transcripts) and on the 30th of August 2019 I sent my application. This application was the start of what I consider a “Butterfly Effect” in my graduate school journey.
At exactly 00:01hrs on the 7th day of September 2019, I received a congratulatory mail from Mr. Victor Ogunmola, I have been selected for the award. A whopping sum of 220USD for the GRE exam and about 70USD for test materials. As a serving corper in Plateau State earning less than 50USD/month, this mail was a message of “hope”.
I started preparation for the GRE test, while ISI gradually unfolded the entire package of the award, it was not just the finances, there was advisory, networking, mentorship and much more. Few weeks after the initial GRE fee and prep material award, I was awarded another 195USD for the Toefl test!! “Euphoria” is an understatement of the feeling this news brought!!
On the 11th and 22nd day of November 2019 respectively, I wrote the GRE and Toefl tests, and then entered the school search and application phase of the journey. My GRE test and applications came with very unique challenges:
There were no ETS test centers in Plateau state as a whole.
I remember the several unproductive trips from Jos to the Immigration office in Abuja before I could get an international passport.
I remember the tons of rejection letters after rejection letters dropping in my mail almost every week.
But in all, the struggle was crowned with success. It gives me great joy to announce to the i-Scholar community that I hold fully funded admissions to four (4) highly ranked Universities in the United States, one of which is a Ph.D. admission to the Systems Engineering department at Cornell University, an Ivy League.
I am grateful to the almighty God, our magnanimous sponsors and the initiators of this great program, the “i-Scholars Initiative”; your benevolence, dedication, and commitment to the success of our younger generation of Nigerian scholars is the beginning of a positive change that would have a tremendous global impact. I look forward to a successful 2nd edition.
To our ever supportive sponsors, you are our backbone, the i-scholar dream is a reality today because of you all. Thank you!
I want to say a big thank you to Dr. Femi Akanbi, he has not only been my advisor but also a major source of encouragement. He has always been there from the GRE registration phase, judiciously guiding my school choices, analyzing emails, setting up meetings, and most importantly encouraging me through the low times of rejections. Thank you sir!
Special thanks to Mr. Victor, a man of great courage whose magnanimity knows no bounds, I have seen him reach out to well-meaning individuals in his network to source fund to support more scholars who did not make it to the first list of selected applicants, this effort brought the total number of sponsored scholars in the first edition of the program to twenty (20). God bless you sir!
To our prospective scholars out there, there would be challenges, there would be disappointments, there would be reasons to give up, there would be rejections, you would feel left behind, but set your eyes on the price, its gold, let these disappointments fuel your desire to achieve greatness…
God Bless you all! Thank you!
i-Scholar Initiative -Scorecard Series XI – I officially launched my graduate school pursuit on the 4th of August 2019 when I came across the life-changing post “a call for applications” on one of the scholarship platforms I belong to. Then, the whole idea of having someone pay for my GRE test was a completely strange one, I couldn’t imagine someone who is not a family, someone who I have not met before to underwrite my bills. I starred the message, and embarked on a quick background check on the individuals involved, and I found out that they were very reputable personalities from various works of life, “anyways, what do I have to lose”?
i-Scholar Initiative -Scorecard Series X – 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.
i-Scholar Initiative -Scorecard Series IX –While composing this message, I clearly remember reading through Tony Elumelu’s story of how he rose to where he is today – which began by him applying with his second class lower degree for a banking job that required a minimum of second class upper degree. He wasn’t qualified to apply, but because he had nothing to lose by applying, he decided to give it a try and that decision was the genesis of the breakthrough in his career.
I saw Mr. Victor Ogunmola’s Facebook post sometime in early August 2019 about wanting to sponsor 3 candidates for the GRE. I read through the requirements and was short of one: I wasn’t yet a graduate. Like the Elumelu story above, I wasn’t qualified but because I also had nothing to lose by applying, I decided to submit my application. I saw it as a springboard for future scholarship applications.
When the results were released, my name wasn’t in the list of the first 10 successful candidates. I didn’t feel bad. I rather took it up as a challenge to prepare very strong applications for my subsequent scholarship pursuits. Amazingly, as more partners joined the vision and more candidates were sponsored, I was ecstatic when I received the congratulatory mail that I had been selected for the funding.
Apart from fast tracking my dreams of schooling in the US, the initiative has saved me the financial stress of having to save $220 (#80,300) and $195 ( #71,175) from my meagre NYSC allowance that was meant to cater for my feeding and general upkeep. As at the time of writing this, I have been offered an admission for my MSc in a University in the USA, while awaiting decisions from the other schools to which I applied.
I am particularly grateful to God, to i-Scholar Initiative and to all our magnanimous partners for this privilege. In all sincerity, I’m amazed at the level of commitment, dedication and enthusiasm this set of persons have for the success of Nigerian graduates. Someday, the rewards will come.
In conclusion, I’m proud to be one of the pioneering recipients of the i-Scholar Initiative. I look forward to being an active sponsor in the not-too-distant future.
i-Scholar Initiative -Scorecard Series VIII –I am a young and enthusiastic graduate of Chemistry with a big drive for using Computational Chemistry in solving health-related problems. Despite having experienced series of delays before gaining admission into a Nigerian University, I graduated with a First Class (Hons) degree from the Department of Chemical Sciences, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba, Ondo State.
My drive for computational chemistry came into existence when I was a Corps Member at University of Ilorin. There, I developed my research methodology by reading a lot of journals, participating in experimental activities and by reviewing a good number of manuscripts. With all of this, and upon completion of Service, I attempted gaining admission abroad in 2018 but got rejected in all the applications.
Here comes my journey with i-Scholar Initiative (ISI). It started when a friend informed me a group of benevolent Nigerians in the US are willing to sponsor some scholars in Nigeria to write the GRE. I applied and, fortunately, received the privilege of the award. Eventually, I wrote the exam on 9th Dec., 2019, and immediately applied to selected schools that waived TOEFL for Nigerians. Good news! Now, I have been offered admission with full funding at a University in the State of Ohio, among other schools in my list.
It is highly worthy to note that on my path to success, God has used the ISI and its Partners to fast-track my journey. This is coupled with my success formula which states that Hardwork is directly proportional to Success, provided Prayer is constant. To scholars, always remember that breakdowns can still create breakthroughs; Things fall apart so things can fall together. Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.
Once again, immense gratitude to the partners of the exemplary ISI for this generous platform. Blessings!
i-Scholar Initiative -Scorecard Series VII –A properly articulated strategy is a pertinent requirement in the art of setting goals and staying on course the highly demanding path to achieving them. Another crucially important component and in fact, the most important component, is the driver – the difference between a wish and a reality.
Since September 2019 when I received news about my funding for the GRE, and would later receive news about my TOEFL funding, i-Scholar Initiative has been the difference. Amidst my personal motivation and initially formidable plan, i-Scholar Initiative has served as that vessel that has made dreams turn into a reality. It has been a rollercoaster ride applying to various schools, scholarships, and research opportunities, and getting quite a number of feedbacks; from the very positive to the not so positive, and then to the outright rejection mails. In fact, some rejection mails were so properly crafted that it took a number of attentive readings to decipher the actual tone of these mails.
Despite the numerous number of ‘love letters’ I received, the mentors at i-Scholar Initiative remained relentless in encouraging me to forge ahead with my applications. The support has been immense, and I am beyond thankful to God that it has all paid off. Those sleepless nights of drafting SOPs and essays, and preparing for the GRE and TOEFL in traffic has finally resulted into something positive.
To every potential scholar, I have to say that applying to schools and securing funding/scholarship opportunities is a very rigorous process. You are going to have moments when everything would seem too overwhelming, and you would want to consider giving up to be the next plausible option. But it might be in that particular moment that the tide would turn.
As a best practice, I would advise you to get every box on your list of essential documents/requirements ticked before even commencing your applications. This would save you from the stress of falling back on one or two loopholes in your application when you are supposed to be preparing for the GRE or re-drafting a compelling personal statement/SOP.
Being a scholar of i-Scholar Initiative has been one of my important highlights in the last 6 months. I am beyond grateful for the strong mentorship platform and ever encouraging peer-to-peer interaction that the initiative provides.
The pinnacle is in sight, and we shall all get there.
Cyril Pepple is a First Class Graduate of Petroleum and Gas Engineering from the University of Port Harcourt. He has a Mini-MBA in Venture in Management from Lagos Business School. He currently has two confirmed MSc offers with potential funding from 2 schools in the US, and has also secured offers into some of the top 10 schools in the UK.
i-Scholar Initiative -Scorecard Series V – Would I ever make it. That was the question that stared at my faces few minutes after I got the mail of my GRE Funding support by the i-scholar Initiative.
Despite my academic grade, for some months now. I had failed to secure a scholarship, I lamented in self pity. The i-scholars Initiative (ISI) boosted my self confidence and motivated me not to give up on my goals.
My experience with this initiative has been a transforming one. The access to mentors and professionals who are doing great things in their field of work is matchless. The mentors offered timely advice and guidance that was very helpful to securing a graduate program. May Jehovah reward them in multiple folds. I
remember when I was studying for the exam. It was hell on earth. What about the overnight browsing -searching for schools and scholarships. It got to a point I had up to 30 list of potential scholarships.
I learnt how to be humble by force when I was begging some of my lecturers for recommendation. Some even threatened to stop assisting me as I was just applying for everything that comes my way. (Lol.No vex sir. Its not my fault nah).
Different SOP review. The Scholars and Partners were so very helpful in this aspect.
Seeing crowds at Postgraduate scholarship exams e.g FSB Commonwealth Scholarship and interviews were no longer new to me. As a matter of fact, I now had cliques that we greet each other, chat, laugh and ask after each other at various scholarship applications.
Our slang and logo was *#We die here.*
I remember the sorrows, the pains and the disappointment. I could remember the cost of paying application fees to University of Tokyo together with sending documents just to be nominated as a Japanese MEXT University Scholarship. Only to wake up to receive a Letter of Regret eMail.
These are not stories that touch the heart. They are just proofs that every winner has a lot in their bag of stress, difficulty and trying moments preceding their victory. The fact simply remains and will always remain. ‘You cannot succeed if you do not try.’ You can never win what you did not apply for.
In all, the Initiative has been like a propeller for my academic goals. The daily and weekly motivation and words of encouragement from the scholars and partners are priceless; it keeps me going.
My advice to prospective scholars is that when applying for scholarship opportunities, please do not despair even when the regret mail comes. The darkest part of the night precedes the dawn. There is always light at the end of the tunnel.
One success mail will surely wipe the tears of a thousand rejections.
And that is exactly what the Mastercard Foundation Scholarship at the University of Capetown did to me.
Moreover, approaching a faculty member by email is a good first step. Be sure to tailor your email and message to each potential supervisor. Your goal is to stand out and make them notice you – a great first impression.
Use proper letter format, formal salutations – Professor/Dr. (last name) and close with “Yours sincerely” followed by your full name and contact information
Attach your CV and current transcripts
Tell them what program you are applying to
Tell them why you’re interested in graduate studies, include career goals, and be sure to highlight any research or leadership skills.
Tell them why you have chosen them, why your research interests are a good match. Refer to their publications that interest you.
I am a First Class graduate of Aquaculture and Fisheries Management from the Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta Nigeria.
I am a prospective MSc. student of the Department of Oceanography at the University of Capetown, South Africa.
i-Scholar Initiative -Scorecard Series VI –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.
i-Scholar Initiative -Scorecard Series IV – Dreams are genuinely achievable! However, there is a system and the right process to follow through.
It is true that we all need a family, a platform, a body, an opportunity, and a group of one or more resource persons who can help actualize our dreams. It doesn’t matter how far you think you are from your future goals; you only need to stay in the right tent per time.
My experience privileged as one of the beneficiaries and scholars of the maiden edition of the i-Scholar Initiative (ISI) has been remarkably worthwhile. In retrospect, having birthed the vision for self-development and developed the penchant for excellence, I was actively seeking a reputable graduate education.
However, it all seemed like a futile race as I was faced with limitations ranging from laying hold of opportunities to securing financial aid. At different points in time, I had figured out strategic moves which to my surprise all failed in the past. Nonetheless, I knew an unwavering self-drive sooner would make my dreams come true – at least that was a speck of lively hope. Yes, I’ve had dashed hopes in the past via rejections skillfully crafted in ‘love letters’ from universities and scholarship committees. It’s amazing how I became inured to all these disappointments.
As a First-Class Nigerian graduate of Chemistry, I had plans of furthering my studies abroad. But my greatest limitation was how to defray the huge costs of standardized tests. Little did I know the golden opportunity was approaching me. Almost at my lowest point in 2019 I got a WhatsApp update from a friend about ‘some GRE sponsors’. I was more than motivated to submit a deliberate application. The good news of my admittance into the Organiser and Partners Sponsorship Program came in few minutes past 12 am on Saturday, 7th September 2019. For the first time in a long while, my joy was inexpressible. I mean, when last did I have such wet, teary eyes!
The joy of every farmer is in a bountiful harvest. Currently, I have multiple fully funded PhD admissions on my desk and still counting more. ISI was just the home I needed to be. The enlightening knowledge imparted to me through dedicated mentorship, the unwavering support by sponsors, and the highly galvanizing passion of fellow scholars summed up to give me the motivation I needed all through the process. I will forever be grateful to our sponsors and partners who through diligence and selflessness provided the huge funds that sponsored me and fellow scholars in the initiative. You all are indeed solution-providers!
Dear prospective candidate, it would help if you remain intrepid in the face of challenges whatsoever and if you are motivated by the success you desire to achieve. Securing a place of admission to any US institution takes a very holistic approach, so please put your best foot forward at every step in the way. I am looking forward to hearing about your success story SOON. Go for it!
i-Scholar Initiative -Scorecard Series III – To say that being a part of the maiden edition of i-Scholar Initiative is one of the best things that have happened to me would be an understatement. The process for me has been enlightening. It is really beyond just getting funded for my GRE. The proximity and access to our sponsors, the advice, the regular encouraging words and even the networking among fellow scholars makes ISI different from other similar initiatives. I had access to mentors and met remarkable people.
I graduated from the University of Ibadan with a BSc (First Class Honors) in Chemistry. While schooling in UI was a great experience, I wanted to go for my graduate studies outside the country however being from a humble background I did not have the means to. Completing my undergraduate studies was already a struggle so I knew I couldn’t ask my parents for anymore money after I finished school, especially because I had my younger ones to also think about.
The peculiar thing about my story is despite that I still had my dream and nurtured it. Yes, circumstances said otherwise but I kept the dream.
Sometime later, a friend send me the link to register for ISI and I applied. Finally, I was privileged to be one of the awardees late last year and so I wrote my GRE in December, a time that could be considered late by most.
After registering for my GRE, I knew the importance of writing TOEFL but I did not have the means to. I kept going because getting accepted as a recipient for ISI’s scholarship further confirmed to me that my dreams were valid. I probably had to work a little bit harder in researching schools and mailing graduate colleges to request for a test of English waiver. Eventually I only got to apply to 3 schools in the US but it did pay off!
Currently, I have been offered a fully funded PhD program in Chemistry with tuition waiver by a University in the USA.
I like to write a lot (I own a blog) and someday soon, I intend to write a holistic story on my journey. The highlight of that story would be how I am so delightful that I have the sponsors, partners and scholars at ISI helping me along the way. I am eternally grateful!
i-Scholar Initiative -Scorecard Series II – One of my plans for 2019 at the end of the previous year was to prepare and take Standardized tests and complete other requirements I would need to secure a scholarship for my postgraduate studies by the middle of the year. At the time, I limited my scope to getting a masters offer in exploration geoscience.
I got into the year (2019) all geared up and I began intense preparations in believe that I would raise the funds that I need for the exams (GRE and TOEFL). Funny enough, days turned into weeks and into months and the needed funds weren’t fort coming. I couldn’t even dare trouble my parents whom have trolled really hard to put me through college. I was almost losing it. Just then, I was flipping through the social media (LinkedIn, Facebook and others) looking for PG opportunities that probably didn’t require GRE and TOEFL as I was already skeptical.
On one of the searches, I discovered a call for highly motivated Nigerian Graduates interested in pursing a graduate study abroad especially in the US and are ready to write the required exams but are constraint by finance to apply to take their GRE on the initiative. I couldn’t contain my joy as I dived into the requirements and started to prepare my application.
I was opportune to make it to the list of Sponsored students. I couldn’t contain my joy on the news of this, but I didn’t let the excitement overtake me as I knew the reward for making it was more work.
Fast forward, I was later identified to be sponsored for TOEFL along the line. It was a full package, full sponsorship and support (Moral and Mentorship from experienced minds that have gone through the process). The initiative took our success as theirs and motivated us to be better providing necessary resources that we needed.
One of the interesting things about ISI was the fact that they allowed us make the decisions and only advised on how to approach the process.
I am forever grateful to Victor Ogunmola, Dr Femi Akasan, Dr Giwa, Dr Ifeanyi Obi, Mr Demola Lanisa and other sponsors for the opportunity to be part of this family of progressive minds.
BIO: David Nworie is a recent graduate of Geology and Exploration Geophysics from Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki. He is a serial volunteer and an SDG advocate. He is passionate about Geoscience and engages in community development initiatives. He is currently a Coach and Mentor to Highschool and Undergraduate students through the SPE Ambassador Lecturer Program. He is an active member and Volunteer for NAPE, SPE, NMGS, , PAIGAS, AAPG and EAGE.
He currently holds two PhD offers as well as one MSc offer – all in the USA. Also an MSc offer ftom King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM), Saudi Arabia alongside 5 MSc. Offers from UK universities (Aberdeen, Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool and Heriot-Watt).
i-Scholar Initiative -Scorecard Series I – Some say you cannot have it all figured out-this may be true- but you need to have a plan. I have had a plan to study abroad and compete globally since I completed my secondary school education. I was admitted to a Canadian university in 2014 but I didn’t get a scholarship. I proceeded to University of Ibadan and bagged a First Class in Industrial Chemistry. For 4 – 5 years, I had planned to apply to an organization for an aid which will take care of all fees during my graduate admission application process and offer the best advice. In 2019, I applied, interviewed but wasn’t selected.
In August 2019, I didn’t know what I would do but I have always told myself to never allow finance be the reason I won’t do something. Maybe, if my family was still as buoyant as some years ago, the fees won’t be too much of a problem. I am the first of 7 children and the financial situation of my family was the worst. Where will I get the money for the whole application process which seemed not less than $1000, always deep in thought, my smile was wearing out -is this where my plan crafted for years will end. Today, with a fully funded PhD offer, I can say I have only spent $120 (about 43,000 naira).
I’d usually mark important messages on WhatsApp, I went through my messages and saw an advert which a friend had sent to me -stating that some well-meaning Nigerians were willing to fund GRE fees for 3 persons. I told myself, we can start from here – one step at a time. I submitted the documents requested on the deadline day (August 30, 2019) and the results were to be released in a week. Amazingly, I received a congratulatory email on September 7, 2019 which served as a huge boost – I told myself God doesn’t leave His own. My GRE exam registration was completed on September 14, 2019. With GRE fees down, there was another exam fee to tackle, TOEFL, where will I get that. If I had to save my full allowance (19,800) to pay for the exam, it will take me 4months at least. On our WhatsApp group, Mr. Victor sent a message stating that scholars should discuss their plans for TOEFL – I couldn’t say anything as I had no money, so no plans but then I discussed my plight with Dr. Femi Akanbi with no idea of what our sponsors were working on. Our dear sponsors had been seeking for funds for TOEFL for scholars as they saw that both exams were necessary to make a competitive application. I woke up one morning and saw a message sent on the group, our sponsors had gotten TOEFL funds for 4 scholars and I was among the selected scholars – Wow, again God doesn’t leave His own. That is how I got funding for my GRE and TOEFL.
Asides this, our sponsors walked through the application process with us, offering the advice whenever needed. My greatest highlight of this initiative is that 20 scholars were funded whereas the initial plan was to fund only 3 scholars. Additionally, 7 scholars were funded for TOEFL too. I applied to 7 schools, I got fee waivers in 3 schools, I paid the fees ($120) in 2 schools and a sponsor paid in the last school. Yes, a sponsor was willing to pay the application fees for scholars.
In life, we should always make the best use of every opportunity we have and try to remain self- motivated in the face of challenges. I am completely grateful to organizer and every partner, thank you for giving me a golden opportunity.
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