Brought to you by Achiever’s Diary is another terrific story of an exceptional scholar who was able to bag a Master’s degree scholarship by Erasmus Mundus while still studying as an undergraduate. While she was yet to complete her bachelor’s degree program, she did venture abroad to begin her Master’s Degree program in Sweden. This inspiring story is by a Nigerian lady, Okafor Chinaza Julian.
Do well to read to the end as she exposes the secrets that enabled her to achieve such a feat.
She is addressed as Okafor Chinaza Julian. Born on the 5th of September 1997 in Fegge, Onitsha, Anambra state, Nigeria.
She attended Federal Science College Ogoja, Cross River State, and then obtained a Bachelor’s in Agriculture from the University of Nigeria Nsukka, Department of Crop Science where she graduated in November 2022.
How She Got to Know About the Erasmus Mundus Scholarship
Her friend, Orji Martins Chidiebere sent her the Erasmus Mundus Scholarship catalog in December 2021 and suggested that she looked into emPLANT+. She was reluctant at first because she just finished her final year first-semester exam, but luckily, she made the application.
Her Application Process
“The application process was a mix of smooth and bumpy ride” she admitted. Before applying, she meticulously looked at the requirement and eligibility criteria. She was pumped to apply when she saw that final-year undergraduate students are encouraged to apply also.
Applying for a post-graduate scholarship as an undergraduate in a Nigerian government University was not an easy feat for her, especially with the incessant threatening strike action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) or NON-ASUU. Getting her transcript wasn’t difficult, because she had cultivated the tradition of always getting her results signed at the end of each level and this made it easy for the Department exam officer to collate all her results. According to her, her supervisor, Prof. Paul K Baiyeri was a gift from God. He ensured that she got all the necessary documents (both a recommendation letter and an attestation letter) for her application.
Weeks after the application, she received an email for the interview phase of the application. She reached out to a senior colleague, Kingsley O. Ibeachuchi who prepared her for the interview. Fortunately for her, 2 weeks after the interview, she received a congratulatory message from emPLANT+ that she is among the selected applicants for the 2022/2024 set.
She expressed that she was elated and felt blessed to have received the prestigious scholarship for the European Union, which upon further exploration, she discovered that she was topping the selection list.
One of the rules for final-year applicants is that they must have graduated before the onset of the program, which is in August 2022. In her case, ASUU went on Strike in February and she was hopeful that the strike would be called off before April so that she could write her final exams before leaving for Sweden. Unfortunately, the strike was not called off. So, through the help of her supervisor, she was able to get a supporting document from the Deputy Vice-chancellor (D.VC UNN) which was conditionally accepted by the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) and emPLANT+.
Details Of the Scholarship
Erasmus Mundus Scholarship in Plant Breeding (emPLANT+) is a two years Master’s degree program in Europe, where you are admitted to 2 Universities, one for your first year and the second for your 2nd year. You will be paid a monthly stipend, a travel allowance at the beginning of each year, and a one-time installation payment. At the end of your Masters, you will receive a double Master’s degree from the two Universities.
Impact Of The Scholarship on Her
She responded that the scholarship has impacted her life in so many ways. The international exposure and multicultural classroom are the extra benefits of the scholarship. On a personal level, she has learned good human relations, how to communicate effectively with people with different languages and finally, it has impacted the way she views life.
Studying In Sweden
“Studying in Sweden is one of the best decisions I have made in my life” she admitted. Her school is among the top 3 best Universities in the whole world in the field of Agriculture. Sweden is a beautiful country that has a very good standard of living. The lecturers are more interested in the students learning than just passing. Courses are organized to ensure that students have enough personal time to recuperate before beginning another course. The learning and teaching buildings are environmentally friendly, which is essential for healthy studying. Studying in Sweden will expose you to current trends in the field of science or art with its state-of-the-art technology. Students have access to unlimited journal articles or books with the University’s domain log in details.
What Keeps Her Going in Her Academic Journey
“While growing up, I made a promise to myself to leave a positive footprint in the field of science. I want to make mind-boggling novel scientific discoveries to better human lives”. Ms. Julian also looks forward to obtaining a doctorate in the nearest future.
Future Plans for Societal Impact
“Climate change is affecting food production all over the world and plant breeding is key to solving this issue. The academic experience, skills, and cultural integration from my course will help me consciously develop solutions to the many problems facing the agricultural sector in Nigeria, such as developing some staple crop seeds that are resistant to biotic and abiotic factors. I believe my participation in this program would help contribute to my quota in producing improved cultivars of seeds as well as teaching local farmers on best agronomic techniques for optimum yield production. This, in turn, would assist them in making informed decisions, reduce their cost of production resulting in higher yields and ultimately leading to higher gross domestic product of my country, Nigeria”.
Advice To Scholars Looking Forward to Having The Same Experience
“Keeping a goal-driven circle of friends is pertinent for attaining excellence. Develop a cordial relationship with at least two lecturers in your department, who will be willing to go the extra mile for you, also remember to appreciate them when you hit a milestone. Pray, pray, and pray, challenges will come but you can overcome it with the right people around you”.
General Advice for The Academic Community
“Always be ready to help others to cross or walk the path you’ve crossed”.
“Thank you for allowing my testimony to reach a wider audience. Keep up the good work and you can read more about my story from my LinkedIn post” https://www.linkedin.com/posts/chinaza-julian-okafor-034462172_scholarship-success-winningmindset-activity-7053991239704035328-pz2t?utm_source=share&utm_medium=member_desktop
Do well to drop a comment below if you feel inspired…