Scholar: Omolara Sanni
Undergraduate Course and Grade: Health Education, Second Class Upper
Undergraduate University: University of Ibadan.
Graduate Course and University: , PhD, Epidemiology, Queen’s University Belfast
Ever since I gained admission for my Bachelor’s degree, I knew I wanted to pursue further degree in a foreign university, but I was not sure where and which course.
During my NYSC, I decided that I would pursue a Masters degree in Public Health, and started researching the requirements to make that vision a reality. I went through the websites of universities of interest, I also made phone calls to the universities I was interested in to ask questions.
I finally decided to submit applications to universities in the UK because they did not charge application fees unlike other countries like the US or Canada.
I applied to every UK university offering the MPH programme, and was offered admission and partial scholarships by the majority. I was about to proceed with one of the universities that offered 50% scholarship, when I received a fully funded place from the University I eventually went to.
Two months into my Masters, one of the lecturers at my department advertised a fully funded International PhD studentship (including monthly stipend). Note that the PhD did not require a Masters degree. So, I responded to that advertisement and set up an informal discussion. After that meeting, I went through with the application process and made it to interview stage (getting reference letters from my former lecturers in Nigeria was a little tough). About 15 applicants were invited to that interview but I was lucky to be the only successful candidate. I started my PhD immediately after completing my Masters, after which I migrated to Canada where I got appointed as a Postdoctoral Fellow at one of the universities.
Words of advice
Do a lot of research regarding the course you are interested in, the admission requirements, and funding opportunities. While some universities require a separate application for scholarship, others automatically consider everyone applying for admission for scholarship.
Beyond academic excellence, I advise applicants to show enthusiasm. It is not enough to just submit an application, try as much as possible to leave a good impression of yourself in the mind of the person that will decide the outcome of your application. In my case, I arranged a meeting to have an informal discussion with my would-be PhD supervisor. If you are not physically present in the country, you could send an e-mail requesting a telephone or Skype discussion- this shows that you are really interested in working with them.
Finally, do not limit your search. Apply! Apply! Apply! Submit as many applications as possible. Like I highlighted earlier, I applied to every university in the UK that offered Masters in Public Health, and got full funding at the one I least expected.
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