The Intentional Excellent Mind

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­čÖé­čÖé­čÖé One of the dreaded footpath to take for students is the scholarship application. So many students have not been able to come to terms on how to go about it and most importantly, why they have several denials from the application boards.

Tonight, we have a guest in the house. Oh….she is opening the floor on the scholars spotlight. She is pretty and BRAINY…. Phewww­čśç­čśç­čśç­čśç. Let’s get to meet her.

Welcome to honournaija_blog, can we meet you ma??

Yesssss, I am excited to be on this great platform. I’m Marian Orhierhor. I am from Delta State, Nigeria. I graduated from the Department of Animal and Environmental Biology, University of Benin Nigeria, with a CGPA of 4.93/5.00 and the department’s best graduating student for the 2015/2016 academic session. Currently, I am a Mastercard foundation graduate scholar at the University of British Columbia, Canada, where I am studying to obtain a master’s degree in Public Health. My hobbies include travelling, networking, volunteering for social causes and watching movies.

Woow, this is thrilling ­čś«­čś«, What inspired you to seek for scholarship and to study outside Nigeria?

I wanted the international experience; I wanted a higher standard of education and experience better than Nigeria could offer. I have also always wanted to get a degree from one of the top globally ranked schools. Furthermore, although there are MPH programs available in Nigeria, the curriculum is not as detailed, extensive and practical. Studying at an institution such as UBC offered the opportunity to network with scholars from different fields of study, thereby extending my professional network and global reach. It also meant I would have a chance to network with professors who are critical players of Public health in Canada and Global health.

Hmm, Nigeria my dear country, we get better. Were you rejected?? How did you handle it? Share your experience.

As a result of my academic excellence, I was nominated by my HOD for the Stephen Oluwole Awokoya Foundation Postgraduate scholarship for Science Education in Nigeria. This was my first experience with scholarship applications, as the nomination required me to write personal statements. I was subsequently short-listed for an interview, and yay!!! I got the scholarship, which was worth 300 thousand naira, to pursue a post graduate degree in any higher institution of my choice. So yes, I thought it was going to be so easy after this. “I had got the hang of scholarship applications” Getting such a high grade, I was almost sure everything was going to play out so smoothly for me. However, I had to wake up to the realities that were before me. The competition in the outside world was ‘crazy.‘ It’s still is, with each year the competition gets more challenging. However, this was no reason for me to give up, as I knew what I wanted and giving up was not an option. I kept improving my profile, applying for different scholarships and fellowships, tried different countries till I got the long-awaited congratulatory call on March 27th, 2019.

Ehn ehn, we have scholarship in Nigeria too­čĺâ. Opps, you must have been delighted to win both. How many scholarships did you applied for before hitting the jackpot?

Yes actually, we have scholarships in Nigeria such as the one I spoke about and some other foundation that has scholarships too. Wow, I honestly did not keep count, and I really did not go back to check the records. I definitely know it was quite a lot because my scholarship application journey started in 2016, after completing my undergraduate degree.

Thank you ma. Did you feel excited after getting one? Share your experience.

I was super excited­čĺâ­čśä. The moment I got the congratulatory call on March 27th, 2019, is forever etched in my memory. I had received a rejection email from one of the Erasmus Mundus Scholarships I had applied for the previous day, so I was not in the best mood. So, when I got that call from the MPH UBC program manager, I was super elated. Her words, “We are so impressed with your profile; we know intelligent persons such as yourself usually have offers from other top schools, but we will be glad if you accept our offer.” The funny thing is I thought I did not get the scholarship because I had friends who also applied and got their calls on March 21st. The MPH program manager explained they had been trying to reach me since the previous week, but my number was not connecting. In my mind, I was like, “MTN will not kill me o.” Our conversation lasted for about 12mins or more, and immediately I dropped the call. I went straight to church to thank GOD!

What a good news!!!. Please share with us, from your experience, what are the needful things to be done before securing a scholarship?

The competition outside is tough. You need to keep improving your profile. Get publications, volunteer to get work experience, take on community service roles, do online courses relevant to your program of choice. Most fields also use big data, so learn statistical programming and learn how to use various software that is needed to excel in your field. Identify your weakness and areas where you need improvement, so you can work on them. Finally, do not be lazy and don’t give up. For every scholarship I applied for, I spent a considerable amount of time checking out the mission and vision of the various foundations, the profiles of previous scholars and also the research the department and school were interested in. Always tailor your applications to be as specific as possible.

Quite insightful. Any platform that students can get scholarships from? please share.

Yes, we have several platforms but here are some of my favourites, opportunities for Africans, Scholarship positions, Scholarships and Aids. There are many of them; you can always simply search google for scholarships. These blogs also have official pages on Facebook.

Thank you ma. Studying outside Nigeria, how does it feel?? Stressful, tasking or entirely with ease? Share your experience.

Graduate school is INTENSE­čśĺ­čśĺ. The North America educational system is very different from the system back home. The number of reading materials/resources you will have to cover, the continuous assessments, quizzes, group projects, the constant engagement with resources, e.t.c can be very much overwhelming and time-consuming. It is very much tasking, and there are definitely some not-so-good moments and moments of confusion. However, the best part about this experience is building yourself, developing professionally and academically. It is beyond just passing exams or quizzes, but you are sure you are learning. You also have at your disposal great resources that help to make graduate school less daunting.

True. What are your words of advice to intending scholarship applicants.??

No matter how good you are, please never forget the God factor. You need to pray hard and trust God. Work like you never prayed, and pray like you never worked. Luck is preparedness meets opportunities. Always be PREPARED. BE INTENTIONAL, BE PERSISTENT AND DON’T GIVE UP. Don’t overlook opportunities; try every opportunity that comes your way. Rejections can be fatal, but they are not FINAL. Learn from your mistakes and be better. The sleepless nights, the endless readings are going to pay off sooner than you think, and it’s good practice anyway because you won’t get much sleep in graduate school. Finally, always ask questions and seek advice from mentors. May God always bless the work of our hands and grant us success in all our endeavours. Amen!!!

Ameeen!!! I have gain from your wealth of knowledge personally Miss Marian. Thank you for coming ma.

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Honour Afinjuomo

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