The Hopeful Excellent Mind
Being hopeful is one of the ingredients of excelling in life. Hope brings your dreams closer to you. Hope means you are expecting a positive outcome or result, this makes you alive.
To be without hope is like being without goals, what are you working towards?” Catherine Pulsifer. Here today, we have an amazing personality who was hopeful, got his dreams alive and eventually won two prestigious scholarships. Join me as we met him.
Welcome to honournaija_blog, can we meet you?
Wow, it’s an honour to be here. I am Peter Osaigbovo- an Aquaculture professional who is passionate about feeding the world with sustainably farmed fish. I had my Bachelor’s degree in Aquaculture and Fisheries Management from the University of Benin in 2017.
Four years after, I started an Erasmus Joint Masters degree in Aquaculture, Environment and Society which have seen me study in Scotland, Greece and France so far.
Great one sir. What inspired you to seek scholarship and to study outside Nigeria?
For me, it’s all about exposure and broadening my mind. I wanted to experience education differently from how I already knew it and I believed it was possible.
Another motivation was the fact that I missed out on scholarships as an undergraduate despite stellar grades because I wasn’t well informed. So, I made up my mind to keep abreast of postgraduate scholarship opportunities overseas and try my best to get an offer.
Interesting. What were the challenges you faced while applying for scholarships?
For me, I’d say the challenges were mostly internal. I had self-doubt and intentionally narrowed my application field- This means I wasn’t applying to just any scholarships.
I was only applying to a few which were very competitive. It was also a bit hard to motivate myself when the rejections came. This is because I was gainfully employed and would often consider getting a Masters degree in Nigeria while focusing on my job.
Honest words. Were you rejected?? how did you handle it? share your experience.
Yes, I was rejected and it was tough to take. I remember vividly the first rejection I got from a top university in The Netherlands. I had secured admission and was quite confident that I’ll get the scholarship. Alas, it didn’t happen.
This was my first application and an eye-opener. It made me determined to understand what I could do to improve my chances. I also learnt how to manage my expectations and to use rejections as fuel for my resolve rather than dampening it. I got a couple more rejections before I finally secured a scholarship.
Valid. How did you feel when you got a yes? Share your experience.
I remember that day vividly. It was the commonwealth Masters scholarship that was moderated by the Nigerian Federal Scholarship Board. I had travelled to Abuja for the screening and saw other scholarship hopefuls in their thousands competing for few places. It didn’t help that the screening was quite basic and routine so I didn’t see how that will help select the best candidates. Still, I did my part and moved on. You can imagine my joy when I saw that I was nominated for the scholarship. I mean, the odds of being selected looked so slim to me. It was surreal and unbelievable. Infact, It’s hard to describe how I felt. I had wanted it so badly that it was all I thought and prayed about. To finally see it happening was mind-blowing and fulfilling.
This was in 2020. I didn’t end up traveling because COVID affected the funding and the award was deferred to 2021. It was a bit disappointing but I wasn’t fazed since I already secured the scholarship. While waiting, I decided to apply for the Erasmus Mundus Scholarship. I had earlier earlier applied in 2020 and didn’t get in. This time, I had nothing to lose. Luckily, I won the Erasmus Mundus Scholarship and now had 2 prestigious offers. I opted for the Erasmus offer and had to let go of the commonwealth scholarship. I am grateful I won the commonwealth scholarship when I did. It made me believe that I could get a scholarship. I just needed to do things better, stay persistent and hope for the best.
Awwwn. From your experience, what are the needful things to be done before securing a scholarship?
The place of planning and information gathering cannot be overemphasized. You need to know the eligibility requirements for the scholarships you want to apply for and give enough time to get all the documents ready. This includes your International passport, Certificate and statement of results, motivation essays, recommendation letters among others.
Depending on the countries being targeted, one might have to take standardized tests like GRE and IELTS. So yes, information gathering is where it all begins. The next thing to do is to give enough time to write your essays and send to others ahead of you for review. This is a very important step and one I didn’t do much because I mostly wrote my essays late. Don’t be like me😂.
Avoid procrastinating and believe in yourself. Also, there’s the place of work experience, volunteering, publications and the likes. They help to improve your profile and possibly give an edge above other applicants. This should also be taken seriously. It is also important to have a clear strategy.
You could stay narrow like me, focusing on specific scholarships (this is risky I must tell you), but it helps concentrate effort on what you really want. On the other hand, you could apply widely targeting scholarships in different continents. This process is gruesome but has the advantage of theoretically increasing your chances- all you need is a ‘yes’ afterall. But be careful in handling the rejections as they’ll certainly come.
Don’t let them break you. Lastly, join active scholarship communities. I didn’t do this and I wish I did. The process is a tough one and you need others like yourself to stay motivated. You also need to see and hear success stories to learn how to do things differently and believe that your dreams are possible too.
Thank for this sir. Any platform that students can get scholarships from? please share.
For me, I mostly used opportunity desk and scholarship for Africans. I subscribed to their newsletter and kept track of opportunities shared. The Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters catalogue is also a great resource for those who wants to go to Europe. There are also country specific scholarships and institution-specific scholarships to look out for. So, I’ll advice keeping a list of institutions offering courses in your countries of choice and check for funding opportunities they have. Sometimes, you’ll find opportunities that are not mainstream which are also great.
Studying outside Nigeria, how does it feel?? Stressful, tasking or quite with ease? Share your experience.
Studying abroad nor be beans o. And it is so for many reasons- you grapple with a new language in some cases, weather (winter can be brutal in some places), settling in can take some time and in some countries, the assessment system focuses more on writing original essays rather than typical exams. So in the beginning, I struggled a bit but its better now.
Despite the challenges, there are resources to make it easier- robust physical and online libraries, helpful lecturers who encourage you to ask for help as well as fast internet and uninterrupted power supply. My advice to new and prospective scholars is, be careful not to doubt yourself because impostor syndrome is quite common when you arrive newly. You have all you need to succeed. Don’t believe it otherwise and don’t feel inferior. We are Nigerians and we always succeed!
Fascinating. What are your words of advice to intending scholarship applicants.??
Getting scholarships is a marathon and not a sprint. It will also cost you money getting your documents together. Be prepared for this. If you’re still in school, develop a good relationship with your lecturers. For those who will use professional references, have a good relationship with your superior(s).
You need them for this journey as recommendation letters are a big part of the application process. Rejections hit hard but don’t take them to heart. That a scholarship body fails to see your worth doesn’t mean you’re not good enough. Remember, there are hundreds or possibly thousand others like you jostling for few positions. Learn from others ahead of you but don’t compare. Everyone has their strengths. Understand yours and try to improve your profile as much as you can. Lastly, believe in yourself, and most importantly trust in God. There’s only so much you can do. God’s grace and favour goes a long way too.
Wise words. Academically, what was your experience transcending from elementary school up to the University level?
I’ve always had stellar grades right from Primary and Secondary school and I maintained this at the University where I graduated top of my class with a First class degree. This did not come easy I must say. I had to juggle a lot of things while being excellent at school.
In my secondary school days, I would miss out on school at least once every week to help my parents at the shop. I also would have to join in at the shop after school. This went on till I finished secondary school. It got better when I was in the University, until it wasn’t. Allowances only came when I requested for it and I refrained from doing so. I had to use my skills in school to earn money- tutoring my colleagues, helping people with assignments in exchange for a fee. Towards the end of my undergrad, I got more involved with the business aspect of my bachelor’s program and made some money that kept me afloat.
Thank you for coming. Any word for Honournaija_blog?
Thank you for creating this platform and doing this. Stories are powerful and inspiring and what you do surely inspires many. I pray that this platform goes places and that people will learn something from all the stories you share. Many thanks for inviting me to share my story. It’s well appreciated.
A big thanks to you sir for pouring knowledge. I am fascinated by your respones. Thank you for coming.