Around November 2015, I declared that 2016 would be my ‘Year of Bold Moves.’ To date, I have seen new places, audited relationships, changed jobs, and weathered personal storms. What a year it has been so far! I mean, I should be careful with my words, because any bold action is usually met by bold opposition. The good thing is, bold action often reaps great rewards. As such, one of the highlights of my year came in late May when I was advised that I was selected as a Chevening Scholar. Yay!
If you search the hashtag #ChosenForChevening on instagram and twitter, you will find posts from a number of brilliant young people from all around the world. We are all celebrating a wonderful opportunity to read for a Masters degree in the United Kingdom, with fully-funded scholarships (in majority of the cases), from the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and partner organisations. I am grateful and excited for this amazing opportunity.
I had applied before and been interviewed (2012). Turns out I was not ready then, although even getting to the interview stage was a big achievement. Better still, was that I was offered the reserve spot that year. As that was the year I won the Miss Jamaica Festival Queen competition, I stayed in Jamaica and executed my reign, for Jamaica’s 50th year of Independence.
Some time passed, and I applied again for the 2016 cohort of scholars; because persistence and faith. Much like when I entered Miss Jamaica Festival Queen, I was pushed to apply for the 2016 Chevening Scholarship. I would get random messages from friends and people I am only connected with on social media with the message, “Hey, this looks like something for you. You should go for it!” There were so many messages pointing me there, and I had said #BoldMoves2016, so I had to go for it. I submitted my application in October 2015. Got shortlisted. I did an interview at the British High Commission in April 2016, and sooner than I expected, I got the confirmation that I was being offered the scholarship.
There was whirlwind of emotions after I was notified; happiness and pride from my parents, excitement from my friends (my best friend called me to squeal on the phone), and on my part, gratitude to God and anxiety. I started to think of all the things I would need to do to be ready for this journey, and all I needed to put in place to ensure that whatever I left in Jamaica for the year would be alright. It suddenly felt scary. Thankfully, I am blessed with a calm, supportive voice, in a person who probably just sees life as a series of hurdles, requiring the plans and strategies to overcome them. So, plan and strategise I did!
Chevening is really unlike any other scholarship scheme, in many regards. One feature that sets Chevening apart is the strong focus on building a global network. Thankfully, I was able to tap into that network to help with my planning, selecting the school, finding accommodation and so much more. I had the help of Jamaican 2015 Cheveners Oroyo Eubanks and Jerome Cowans. Importantly too, my friend and 2014 Chevening Scholar from Trinidad, Teocah Dove, was on call to help with many moving decisions. Oroyo connected me with Cheveners at the school I selected, and they were a big help. Tshepo Tshabalala and Lindsay Wells from South Africa, who had never met me before, agreed to Skype calls to answer my questions and shared much of their knowledge with me. I am grateful for all the help for this transition.
I am looking forward to experiencing the UK, learning a whole lot, expanding my network, developing my leadership skills and so much more for this year. I am boldly declaring that this will be one of my best years yet. #MyCheveningJourney will be amazing!
Here’s my encouragement. Whatever your want to achieve, go for it. Enter into action boldly. When the uncertainties arise, reach out to people who can help. Trust, you won’t have to go it alone. Set your goals, strategise, and even if you hit a hurdle, plan and strategise to get over, under or around it.
Now, if you are interested in applying for the Chevening Scholarship, go for it. You may just be selected for 2017, or you may get experience to prepare you for 2018 or 2019. If you want to ask me questions about the process and the scholarship itself, feel free to drop me a line.
Over the next couple of months, I will be using my social media to highlight my experiences in the UK as a Chevening Scholar. I anticipate that it will be a rewarding and exciting year. Wish me luck!
About Chevening Scholarships (from chevening.org)
Chevening is the UK government’s international awards scheme aimed at developing global leaders. Funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and partner organisations, Chevening offers two types of award – Chevening Scholarships and Chevening Fellowships – the recipients of which are personally selected by British Embassies and High Commissions throughout the world.
Chevening offers a unique opportunity for future leaders, influencers, and decision-makers from all over the world to develop professionally and academically, network extensively, experience UK culture, and build lasting positive relationships with the UK.
Applications for Chevening Scholarships and some Chevening Fellowship awards are open between 8 August and 8 November 2016. Applications for various Chevening Fellowships programmes open at different points during the year.