My overarching career pursuit to become a seasoned academic researcher and a key stakeholder in Nigeria’s agricultural sector informed my decision to seek graduate studies in a top-notch university. My destination was simply the United States of America (USA), I said to myself! So, in 2016, shortly after my mandatory national youth service, I began to make necessary plans. Although I had initiated the process, I felt discouraged along the line and had to abandon my US graduate pursuit as I lacked proper mentorship at the time. The application process was simply overwhelming for me coupled with the financial commitments. However, in 2020, I decided to pick up my broken pieces and then start afresh. Fortuitously, a friend who was among the first cohort of i-Scholars hinted to me of a body that sponsors motivated young graduates to sit for standardized tests as well as provide them with robust mentorship for graduate school application. This is exactly all I needed I affirmed to myself and I requested him to keep me in the loop as regards the next application. And true to my wishes, when the next application was out, I gave it a good shot and I was selected. This was the first win that birthed other wins en route to graduate school in the US.
When I joined iSI, the entire application process was broken into bits for me. That made the application easier as against my earlier attempt. So, I took it a step at a time and trust me it was worthwhile. I applied to 4 schools namely: Cornell University, University of Florida, University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Clemson University. All gave me full funding for a PhD program with an appointment as Graduate Research Assistant except for Cornell University which rejected my application. Words of encouragement from my direct mentor, Mr. Rotimi Mohammed, gave me a good reason to push on, even when things were seemingly going off target. The i-Scholar Initiative is truly an awesome family and one that turns dreams into realities. I am really indebted to this awesome family for my success story this far.
To the incoming cohort, I would say you’re in the right place and at the right time. Your selection is one proof that you’ve got all it takes to aim for the stars. The entire graduate application process is in sequence. Stay true to the process and do follow the order while giving it your best. Your surest bet is to kick-start the process on time. Like sitting for the standardized tests, searching and making a list of selected graduate schools, sending cold emails to faculty and all of that in time. You can’t also rule out the God factor. It makes the difference even when your application package seems to be in order.
My name is Samuel Oluwasegn IPINYOMI. A first-class graduate of Agriculture (crop/soil science specialization) from Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto. I hold a joint Master of Science degree (distinction grade) in plant breeding from Pan African University and the University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria. I am an incoming PhD student of the plant breeding graduate program for Fall 2021 at the University of Florida, Gainesville.