Updated: Jun 22, 2018
Scholar: Dumebi Nwaokobia
Undergraduate Course - Economics
Undergraduate University - Babcock University, Nigeria
Graduate Course and University- Economics, University of Texas at Dallas
My name is Dumebi. I was a typical smart kid, always came first in class through primary and secondary school, and so naturally, I was ‘supposed’ to be a doctor. But I knew that medicine didn’t excite me, neither did the long 6-7 years in school. And so I surprised everyone and off I went to Babcock to study Economics. I graduated with a first class in Economics in 2012.
I think it was more of my parents dream that I studied abroad for my masters. I had gained admission to a University in the U.K. during the course of my NYSC. Their representatives had come to Lagos for a fair and with my documents, they were able to secure a spot for me. At that time, my brother was completing his masters a Coventry university and advised that if I wanted to have any foreign professional work experience, the UK was not the best place for me.
And so I started studying to go to the US. This involved taking the GRE and TOEFL exams. Unfortunately, the timing of my application and my scores were not good enough to get me a scholarship, but it did get me a spot at the University of Texas at Dallas.
I had chosen to study economics , just because I assumed I had to complete what I had started. I wish I had given it more thought. In the US, there are STEM and non-STEM courses, as a foreigner studying a STEM course allows you to stay an extra 36 months to work in the US(it’s called OPT) whereas a nonSTEM allows you only 12 months. (Economics is not a STEM course) I also didn’t know I could have just applied directly to a PHD(to increase my chances for funding) but that’s story for another day.
In the end of my first semester, there were calls for applications for about 3 different scholarships open to everyone in my department. All you had to do was submit an essay based on a theme. I applied for all 3 and won 1. It was worth almost $9000 in that semester and $6000 in subsequent semesters until I graduated. And so even though I still had to pay something out of pocket, I was still very grateful.
Two and a half years after, I work as a Quantitative analyst for a Financial services company in Dallas. I would say there are many roads to a destination but finding the best road will save you some time and stress. If you want to study abroad, first know exactly what you want but be flexible, start preparing early, do your research, and definitely talk to people who have gone before you!