The Insightful Excellent Mind

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To be an insightful person means to look inward, reflect and engage in deep thinking over a subject matter.

This often times is accompanied with showing a deep understanding about something. Winning a scholarship involves being insightful about the scholarship, your essays and how to submit a winning application.

Today, we have an insightful scholar on board. Lets get to draw from his wealth of knowledge.

Welcome to honournaija_blog, can we meet you?

Thank you. My name is Oluigbo Chizurum. I am a Biochemist by training, having received the award for a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry (First Class honours) from the prestigious University of Nigeria Nsukka. I am a 2021/2022 EducationUSA Opportunity Funds Programme (OFP) scholar, and I am currently studying for my doctorate degree in Neuroscience at the City University of New York.

Great. What inspired you to seek scholarship and to study outside Nigeria?

It was in my final year of undergraduate schooling that I decided I was going to pursue further studies outside the country, as I wanted a more challenging environment, as well as the exposure that comes with learning in a more developed country. Although I had picked up an employment with a top corporate organization in Nigeria, I was sure that I would be better of in the research world so, I started plotting my way out an into graduate studies. I had read of people that got scholarships to various countries in the world and I thought to myself that this could be me as well! My dad was retired at this point so, I knew it was up to me to pursue this dream of mine and so, I started my scholarship hunt.

I missed out on applying for various scholarship opportunities during my undergraduate days as I was less informed then, so I decided I would make good use of that opportunity this time around. Also, I felt we (my family) had spent a lot on education so, it was high time someone else paid for funding my studies.

Insightful. What were the challenges you faced while applying for scholarships?

Hmmmm… So, at the start of this scholarship pursuit, the challenge I had was lack of clarity on how to go about this. Well, that’s why we have people and our network right? I reached out to a few people and got proper guidance. Then, I had financial constraints as I needed to take the standardized tests and pay application fees so, this impeded me from doing much at first but then, when I got a job, it really helped to fund a good part of these expenses. Another challenge I faced earlier on was that I didn’t have a very good research / employment experience especially as I was in the sciences and it seemed this was very advantageous to getting a scholarship especially in the STEM area.

Were you rejected?? how did you handle it? share your experience.

Hahahaha! I think the question here should be “How many times were you rejected?” Lool… Sincerely, I think I lost count. If I were to be modest, I save I received at least 20 rejections over the course of my scholarship applications. I mean, just seeing that first line of the email: “We regret to inform you…”, always broke my heart because I always felt I was good enough to secure a scholarship. Not to lie, I cried at some point and I was questioning my intellectual abilities but like the Scriptures say, a righteous man falls seven times and he rises up again.

I would pick myself back up and say to myself “Onto the next one”. I also thank God for the kind of family and friends I have, they always supported me and would always encourage me not to give up. So, after each setback, I would try to improve on my next application so I can send in a stronger application than the previous one. I also networked more and built more connections with people who were on the same journey or had gotten a scholarship and they were always ready to help. This spurred me to persist in my quest.

How did you feel when you got a yes? Share your experience.

Oh! I cannot forget that day. When I got the mail to check the decision on my application. My heart skipped a beat because I had gotten series of rejection emails before now. I summoned the courage and opened the link and when I read the first part of the mail that read “We are happy to inform you…”, I screamed and just felt tears run down my cheeks. I just started thanking God and then, I went back and read through the email to know the next steps. All I could feel was gratitude to God and a burst of hope! The years of rejection felt insignificant as I was finally holding in my hands what I have been pursuing for 5 years! That day still feels fresh in my mind. Then I placed a call to my parents and shared the news with them.

I can’t remember doing anything again that day. I kept asking myself if it was dream but it wasn’t! I was on my way to graduate school!

From your experience, what are the needful things to be done before securing a scholarship?

I’ll say first and foremost, be sure you want to pursue graduate studies. It’s not a walk in the pass, I must confess. Then, decide on what area of research or study you want, let it be one that you have an interest or a passion for. Do your research properly to know what scholarship you would greatly fit or what school would meet your intellectual needs.  If you have to take standardized tests like TOEFL, IELTS or GRE, do so early enough before the application season commences so that you can put in a strong application.

  • Start preparing your materials for application on time: transcripts, statement of purpose, CV. Get your recommendation letters or recommenders ready too so that your application submission will not be delayed when the time comes.

  • Don’t wait for the last minute to submit applications. The earlier you do it the better! Give yourself ample time to send in a good application.

  • While this may sound funny, I’ll say it. Get your international passport. I have seen a lot of people talk about applying for scholarships and graduate school but they don’t have an international passport. That’s just funny. This should be about the first thing to do.

  • And finally keep improving yourself. Get articles published, get certifications and take courses online. These would help you compete effectively.

Thank you sir. Any platform that students can get scholarships from? please share.

LinkedIn and Twitter have proven to be very useful resources for scholarship information. Follow a lot of Academicians and schools, as well as notable individuals that share information on scholarships. Also, there is, it is a reputable site that contains great scholarship and fellowship opportunities as well.

Studying outside Nigeria, how does it feel?? Stressful, tasking or quite with ease? Share your experience.

Ease? Lool.. Schooling outside Nigeria is very, very different. There’s a sharp contrast between the learning approach of the US and Nigeria. It’s been quite stressful but then very enriching I must say. Mehn!! Assignments and tests are a norm here. But then, they help to keep you focused on the task as hand, which is school. It’s not been easy but God has been helping us. It feels great to be able to relate theoretical concepts with the experimental processes which one undertakes.

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

Never give up! Never give up! Never give up! Make sure to improve yourself as you go along the line and please build a string network, it would help you, immensely.

Academically, what was your experience transcending from elementary school up to the University level?

Gratefully, I had parents who believed in education, had the capacity, and were willing to go the extra mile to see to it that their kids were comfortable and well catered for. So, they sponsored our education all through elementary to university level without us having to supplement at any point. Let me use this opportunity to say a big thank you to my Dad and Mom for their unflinching support and innumerable sacrifices to see to it that my siblings and I lacked nothing. God keep you both long enough to reap the labour of your hands. Amen!

Amen. Thank you for coming. Any word for Honournaija_blog?

Yeah… I see what you’re doing and I like it. Keep it up! Let me use a scripture to pass a message to you, “… do not despise the days of little beginning”. Don’t see this blog as small, it’s just a matter of time

This is massive.!!! Thank you sir for coming and for kind words.!!!

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