This post is a guest post by Onwuegbunam Onyeka Vivian a recipient of the African Graduate Scholarship(AGS). The African Graduate Scholarship is for African Nationals who wish to study at the University College London for a graduate degree at the Global Health and Development Msc program ONLY. All the best as you put these tips to use in your application!
PERSONAL TIPS ON AFRICAN GRADUATE SCHOLARSHIP
by Onwuegbunam Onyeka Vivian
On Friday 14th June 2019, I received one of the most heart-warming news of my adult life; I had been awarded the African Graduate Scholarship to pursue a master’s degree in Global Health and Development at University College London (UCL). This was a dream come true as I have always wanted to study in not only a globally respected university but a community like UCL where everyone regardless of class, gender, race has equal opportunities to excel. The AGS opportunity is graciously funded by the CP Charitable Trust and International Student House (ISH), London. As one of the two candidates that got this opportunity, I decided to document my story of the application and award experience hoping it would be useful to individuals who are interested in applying for the MSc Global Health and Development and the African Graduate Scholarship. Kindly note that these broad tips are from my personal experience and does not reflect official checklists for winning the award.
Front of UCL Main Quad
Ideal Candidates: To be eligible for this scholarship, you must apply to the MSc Global Health and Development program ONLY. No other MSc program is eligible for this scholarship. It is expected that you apply for the MSc program here. The scholarship also requires that you apply for the course and receive an offer before applying for the scholarship. This is an opportunity targeted at African nationals residing in an African country at the time of application.
Course Requirements: A minimum of second class upper with a BSc from medical, social sciences, life sciences, humanities, and other health-related courses are required to apply for this course. English Language proficiency in form of TOEFL or IELTS is required. Before your application, you should already have your international passport and academic transcripts handy. For more information on country-specific requirements click here.
The day I collected my UCL ID card…. I was so excited.
Profile and CV: It is essential to have your CV properly constructed for assessment. This shouldn’t just include your work experience, but your awards, publications, and conferences attended should also be present. It should not be more than two pages. May I add that this could include your volunteering experiences. For example, as at the time of my application, I had very minimal work experience, but I volunteered a lot for the causes I was passionate about and based on that was able to garner nearly 3 years’ worth of experience. I also did an unpaid internship at the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) which helped boost my work experience.
Personal Statement: This is a very important part of your application process. You must be able to give good reasons why you want to study the course and why you chose UCL and the course in the first place. Also, you need to state what you intend to do after the course. Being strategic is very crucial in this aspect. Writing in a clear and concise language would help you pass your message across well. Tying your aspirations to a story or something that has happened in your life is a good way to go about it and would ensure that there is good flow when reading. Know the course you are applying for in-depth because that shows that you are interested in studying the course. DO NOT copy parts out of a personal statement online or from a friend, plagiarism is a serious issue that could count for disqualification. Trust me, they always know. Most importantly, do ask people to review your essays for you as this would help you get better. I was horrible at first but with consistent reviews and corrections, I got better.
References: Two reference letters are needed from a lecturer or employer for both the programme and scholarship applications. It is advisable to get the letter directly from your referee or provide their name and email address. They also need to be notified to be on the lookout for emails from the scholarship board. From now, it is advisable to build a good rapport with your lecturer, employer or community leaders so that they can feel comfortable to always help you. In my case, my dissertation supervisor for my BSc wrote all my reference letters for me since 2017 when I first started to apply. She always responded whenever I asked her to write me a reference letter and always encouraged me when I got rejections. That’s one of the strengths of building good relationships.
With my fellow Scholar at the Reception Dinner.
Be truthful, do not say you have done something when you did not. Use Grammarly to check and double-check your spellings in your essay and CV. Start the application process early.
In conclusion, I would strongly encourage African Nationals who are keen on improving health globally and policies in the African continent to consider and apply for the GHD and AGS scholarship. Thus far my experience has been phenomenal, UCL exceeded all my expectations and more. The MSc Global Health and Development course has been fulfilling and has taught me a lot. The lecturers have been incredible, encouraging and so helpful. The scholarship has been incredibly beneficial introducing me to fantastic networks and creating other opportunities. I am truly grateful to my sponsors for believing in me. You too can be the next!