Scholar: Cassandra Akinde
Undergraduate Degree and University: Medicine, University of Lagos
Graduate Degree and University: Tropical Medicine and International Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
My Introduction to Chevening
My journey as a scholar began in 2017 when I first heard about Chevening Scholarship from a random friend and an alumnus. I had just graduated from the University of Lagos, College of Medicine with excellent grades and was about to begin my compulsory internship year as a medical doctor at Lagos University Teaching Hospital. When he told me about the prestigious scholarship award funded by the Foreign Commonwealth Office and how it aligned with my line of humanitarian work and professional aspirations I was very eager to apply . From that moment on, I began to actively search on internet for any resources and filling the application form.
Failing the First Time
I applied in 2017 in haste and wrote some lackluster essays which were proofread by very few people and I submitted as early as I could, thinking it was on first come first serve basis.Foolish right 😏? Of course with this method of mine, my online application didn't pass through the next stage of being longlisted or any stage at all.
At that time I was very down as it was the first time in my life I failed at something and I didn't want to think I made an error of judgement. I was in self denial stage until I took time to read more about the alumni and their global impact around the world. I was so amazed and got inspired to become the best version of myself by attempting once more but more deliberately and with a strategy as I have always tackled challenges straight on.
How I Bounced Back: Applying a Second Time
Firstly , I redefined the term "Research " by reading vigorously and practically memorizing the history, objectives, vision, mission and the global impact of their work through the UK Department For International Development (DFID) and its priority areas in different countries including Nigeria on the Chevening website. I watched numerous youtube videos on application tips from successful scholars. I also took my time to gather information and understand the eligibility criteria, work requirements,course options , affiliated Universities and come up with my post-study career goals.
This gave me a much clearer understanding of what and who they were looking for and what I could bring to the table. I made a self assessment and found that I was a potential candidate but I needed to boost my self confidence and gather some more social and leadership skills. This brings me to my second point.
Nothing comes easy in this life but perseverance and being meticulous can go a long way.
I was opportune to rise to a leadership position in a nonprofit I was volunteering for awhile since medical school. The Neo Child Initiative by becoming the project manager and Vice Lead Health for a health campaign called End Tetanus. This led me to acquire certain leadership and networking skills through this project by engaging with the community and successfully completing the project. I was also building my online portfolio and communicating the visible impact via different media options ranging from newspapers to IG live videos. Furthermore, volunteering my time and investing my expertise in capacity building and health advocacy via social and digital media boosted my self-esteem and confidence.
Finally, while doing this volunteer work, I gathered more experience and writing my essays on leadership, networking and my career goals using the STAR approach I gathered from a webinar by Tife Soloye and Gideon Olanrewaju, an alumnus I engaged actively during the application process. This time around I made sure several people including alumni proofread it before submission. This was a very delightful event as I was sharing my authentic well structured and simply written life experience with them. My interview also went well as I was able to relive my experience and communicate it clearly and confidently to the panel interviewers of the British High Commission despite my anxiety at the beginning of the interview.
Fast forward to now when I am currently undergoing an intense Masters course degree in Tropical Medicine and International Health at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
All in all I will advise all prospective candidates to put in their best effort as it can bring out the hidden potential you never knew existed. Be deliberate and committed.
If I can do it so can you 😁👌
Failure is not in our dictionary 😁
These are some of the links I found useful :
Leadership essay tips:
Networking essay tips:
Course and university choice tips:
Career plan essay tips:
Overall application/essay advice:
Scholars sharing their experience: