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From Unilag to UCL: A superstar's story of persistence

Today’s scholar teaches us about seizing our opportunities and maintaining the right mindset in our waiting period.

Prior to graduate school, Kome was much like any other recent Nigerian graduate. She was undergoing her mandatory NYSC service at KPMG, one of Nigeria's top companies. For her, this was the time  to create a plan for her future. In the waiting and planning was where she first discovered GetIn Education Consulting's Instagram page. During this time, she also had a conversation with her uncle, a former chevening scholar.  This conversation with him left her yearning for more and set on succeeding on her first round of applications to grad school.   She knew she needed help but desired the independence of learning to do it herself. Oyinkon, a friend of Kome, came through like a guardian angel at just the right time. She had uploaded a flier of a GetIn IG live event to her status. Kome confesses  that Mime's session titled "From Unilag to Harvard" piqued her interest. She wanted to know how someone with a similar background to her was admitted to such a prestigious university. She immediately enrolled in the Bootcamp, and that was the beginning of her journey to her dream graduate school. 

It's fair to say that Kome's time as an undergraduate was unique. She attended the University of Lagos and earned a bachelors in Parasitology with first class honors. It wasn't that Kome initially set out to be an A student, in fact she admits that in her first semester, she performed averagely. "I remember a deacon in my church told me, there is no point in attending school if you are not performing well. This was a reset for me. I could not afford to continue to perform poorly after my first semester, so I spent the majority of my time studying, visiting the library, and working on my fellowship". This shift in mindset earned Kome a spot at the top 3 on graduation day. For any undergraduate student struggling in school, Kome wants you to know that, "You are only sacrificing a few years, so do what you can and give it your all. It is preferable to make a sacrifice than to regret it later". 

Outside of her academics,  Kome kept busy with extracurricular activities. "I collaborated with a lecturer on a project on ecological society. Afterwards, I gave a presentation to an international audience on world migratory fish initiative. I was also very active in the Redeemed Christian Fellowship in school. I truly believe that I gained interpersonal and time management skills. In my final year, I was appointed Assistant General Secretary." These, among others, set Kome up to show leadership skills in her application essays. 

These interpersonal skills extended to Kome's active participation in the GetIn Bootcamp of 2021. Recalling the experience, Kome recalls the bootcamp season with fondness. “I liked the attitude of do it yourself that GetIn preached. Mariam was not equipping me for one cycle, I was being equipped for life, for any other cycle we wanted to do. I also really liked the color coding exercise that helped me figure out what my opportunities were and why I wanted to go to school. The writing process was also profound, it allowed you to think about your journey and figure out your why”. Kome jokes that whenever someone approaches her with a question about graduate school, she directs them to GetIn's Instagram page, and there's a good reason for this. Before GetIn, she was aware that she liked the subject of sustainability, but she did not know exactly what she needed or which country would support her goals. GetIn assisted her in bridging the gap between her dreams and objectives.

At GetIn, we pride ourselves in building a community of hardworking superstars and Kome is no exception to this. “I love the community, it felt like a judgment free zone. It felt like you can be as open as possible. Funny story, the scholarship I applied to was posted by someone else on the channel.” She loved the unity of purpose, the connections. “Everyone is working toward a goal. From the tasks to send our first paragraph of SOP, to submitting applications, to the waiting process and all the “I got in messages”. It was truly a great environment”.

Armed with knowledge on how to ace applications, Kome took a deep plunge into the world of graduate school applications. One thing is for sure, we love that Kome aimed high, there was no playing small with this superstar. Her goal was to attend a prestigious university and her eyes were fixed on the price. “My course of study was unique, I wanted a fully funded opportunity and I also needed to think long term. After an extensive research period, I applied to 4 schools: Oxford University, University College London, University of Birmingham and University of Bristol. These universities met Kome's requirements. There were funding opportunities available, and they were prestigious and would help her achieve her goals. Application season is not about throwing half baked essays around, it is an intentional process and Kome knew all about this. 

As many scholars know, the waiting period is another ball game. Our scholar knows the “agony” of this season. “The waiting period was horrible and frustrating. I often wonder why I thought I had to manage my frustrations myself as opposed to sharing with people. I quickly learnt that others were experiencing the same thing. I was in constant prayer mode asking God for help. I especially spent that period looking for funding. I feel like I spent that time searching the ends of the internet. These schools sometimes take forever to respond”. While many waste the waiting period worrying and in anxiety, Kome recommends staying active. “It was during that time I found other funding opportunities like the Student Resident Advisor role I applied and got into. It was also during that period I solidified my game plan for how to fund my program and survive in a foreign country”. 

If you are in the waiting period, Kome has a word of advice for you. “Your feelings first of all are valid but they should not control how you live your life during that period. They should not stop you for how you live your dreams. Don’t dwell and don’t sit in them.”

As is the character of the application process, Kome did experience disappointment. Her application to Oxford was rejected and so was her scholarship application to Bristol. But joy does come in the morning and it sometimes comes in the form of your golden funding opportunity. Kome was awarded the Global Masters scholarship worth 15,000 pounds, a whooping 65% off her tuition. Not only did she get awarded this, she also secured the SRA role which was a job that would provide free accommodation and a stipend in exchange for her services. For her, this was huge. “It was honestly so amazing. It was rewarding. If someone had told me I would get into UCL, I would find it hard to believe…I had done IGCSE, did 6th form college to go abroad for undergrad but at the last minute, the plan fell through due to personal family issues. So to see this dream come true was amazing. My sister reminded me of a vision board I had in 2014 where I had 3 universities which were Cambridge, Oxford and UCL. It was like a full circle moment and was very rewarding. I would never have believed then that I got into UCL.”

In light of this win, Kome faced yet another challenge. “After the joy of my offer, my visa application fell through. This part of this process was the only part someone did for me and unfortunately, the person made a mistake in showing my proof of funds. I was about 500,000 naira short in the application and so my first visa was rejected. This period was worse than the waiting period. At this point, my accommodation and scholarship was in jeopardy. I ended up losing the SRA role and my accommodation benefits. I forgot that the whole point of GetIn was to do things myself, I wish I had taken the time to do my own calculations. One my think that this challenge would deter Kome but like any true scholar, you know that challenges are a part of the package and you must stand up for yourself. In summary, “the future is uncertain, you cannot fully plan for the future, situations happen but how do you plan to adapt to changes that might occur? I realized that this was where I was, I took it as a learning opportunity and reapplied for the visa. I paid for an expedited service and got my visa in 24 hours. Don’t ask me how much I paid. LOL”. You might be in this visa season and just wondering when things would align, keep your chin up friend! “When I face difficult situations here in school, I know how to face them head on. I am able to better manage situations, I feel like if I found a solution for the visa processes then anything else would be fine. My advice to anyone in the visa process is to stay informed, stay engaged, don’t hands off. One mistake can take you so many steps back”. 

If you are wondering how our scholar figured out this money matter. She shares that “The 15k covered about 65% of tuition. RSA to cover accommodation. Uni split payment into 3. Which meant I was only looking for ⅓ of my tuition  for a start. I made sure to keep applying to other scholarships. I also knew that I had to save up about 3000 pounds and this was doable for me. In addition, my family was supporting me so I was able to pull together what I needed. 

Taking in the scenery in London, Kome can testify that the hustle was worth it. “Grad school has been good. I have found a big interest in climate financing, grassroot financing”. She is evaluating the effectiveness of climate funding for her dissertation. Climate funding is simply described as money that is used for sustainability projects. She is passionate about this project because she has plans to one day go back home to Africa where she knows that more effective climate financing can do more for the region and its support of community adaptations. For Kome, she is staying true to her personal statement, building each goal one experience and class at a time. She is attending conferences, meeting people and so on. She is also learning more about herself, she is under no pressure to do more than what she is currently pursuing. She is open to exploring, to expanding and is embracing fluidity. She is happy to be discovering herself.

Kome knows that all work and no play makes Jill a dull girl, so she is approaching this experience in a different way. “I told myself I would give myself the gift of having fun. This time, I do the things that make me happy. I try to chill, I make friends.” Of course, life doesn’t come without challenges, “There have been tough periods. Covering my living costs was not part of my original plan but it has taught me to manage funds, to save money, to find the best deals and live within my means. This is the first time I know what it means to pay rent. I am living a good life and I feel at ease. Indeed, Godliness with contentment is great gain”. In addition, “I have a nigerian church community and I continue to enjoy sweet Nigerian food like banga and starch”

The GetIn application bootcamp is a gift that keeps on giving. The dedication she displayed in the Bootcamp is the same energy Kome took into grad school. “Everytime, I find myself saying “conceptualize” to everyone. The way Mariam taught us to write personal statements is how I write my essays at school, I conceptualize, I show receipts. I find myself critically looking at essay questions, breaking sentences up and doing the most in my classes. Sometimes, I need help and the linkedIn hack is my go to. I remember needing help with an essay for a class and connecting with a person to help me.”

For you out there who is navigating the application season, the waiting process or waiting to hear an approval on your study visa, stay grounded, your dreams are possible. Kome wants you to know that “You need only one school to believe you. You need one school to believe in your dreams and fund you. Don’t be deterred, keep searching for a school that would believe in you. As long as you have a valid reason for wanting to study abroad, know that your story matters, your case counts. You definitely can get to where you want to get to. Apply, be resilient, keep going. ”

What an inspiration Kome has been to the GetIn community! We are excited to see what the future holds for Kome.

If you want to learn proven strategies to secure juicy admission offers with scholarships, ensure you join our Bootcamp waiting list.


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