Leadership, My Chevening Journey

Chosen for Chevening!

I’m super elated and honored to be chosen for Chevening out of 2900 Kenyan applicants and over 60000 globally.

As I write this post, I keep looking at my 2020 vision board with the #IamChevening sticker  that I put up back in January. I still pinch myself to confirm that indeed I am among the selected Chevening scholars in the 2020/21 cohort. edited DSC_0021

Chevening Awards are prestigious and very competitive. Chevening enables outstanding emerging leaders from all over the world to pursue one-year Master’s degrees in the UK. The scholarships are funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office with a contribution from the host Universities that scholars choose to pursue their Master’s degrees.

The Journey

I haven’t been on a self-reflection and discovery journey as deep as what begun in October 2019 when I embarked on the Chevening application process. As a student of Leadership, I knew that self awareness is critical in being an effective changemaker, but never did I appreciate my abilities and work as much as I do now after my application process. It’s true, we live life forward but understand it better (connect the dots) backwards.

In my youth programming work for the last 4 years, coupled with my passion in gender equality interventions, I have learnt the place of politics in achievement (or lack thereof), of equitable change as envisioned in most policy making processes.

Having taken part in the review and validation of the proposed Kenya Youth Development Policy that was recently launched and the proposed National Youth Council Bill of 2019, I have seen firsthand how political interests hinder meaningful development especially among vulnerable communities.

Additionally, our work at Dadapower Initiative has revealed that young women’s socio-economic and political advancement depends on how we tackle their progress from childhood through teenagehood and adulthood. Teenage pregnancies, gender based violence and extreme poverty are pressing challenges that not only require well coordinated strategies but also political good will.

My deep interest in understanding and influencing the intersectionality of politics, decision making in governance, and policy in addressing the various challenges in communities informed my choice of a governance-related Master’s degree in Politics and Public Policy. 

Application process

I first heard of Chevening from a 2017/2018 scholar who also happens to be a Dadapower Initiative pioneer member. In the following years several friends were awarded the chevening scholarship and this really encouraged me to apply for the scholarship. Whats more, my mentor was selected for the 2019/20 cohort, giving me closer access to Chevening scholars and their stories. I was mostly drawn to the powerful networks associated with the Scholarship.

The Chevening application process is tough and requires deep personal reflection, thorough research and smart essay writing. Having researched on my area of study and UK related work in Kenya, I embarked on writing the four essays which took me the entire October (2019) to finish. And soon as I was done, I shared them with 3 Chevening scholars (former and current) for review.

1st November 2019 is a day I will never forget, literally! I even put up a post just for memories. I was in Arusha for a work training and I would spend all my evenings working on the essays and fine-tuning any spotted gaps. You know how you work on documents and never save on Drive thinking that you are safe just having them in the computer? I had received all the feedback from the scholars and updated my essays, all set for 1st November for submission to beat the 3rd November deadline. And then…that morning, the PC could not power on. I remembered charging it before I went to bed, so I thought it must have been a minor issue that a more tech-savvy colleague would help out with. Long story short, the PC had crushed and I had to wait until Monday (3rd November) to have it repaired once I got back to Nairobi. This broke my heart and I panicked to the core.

There were many options for me, and giving up was not one. I borrowed a colleague’s laptop and that’s how I ended up starting the essays from scratch with guidance from the feedback shared. Close to midnight on 1st November, I submitted my application after a prayer and the rest is an amazing story!!

I cant hide my joy for being chosen as part of the 2020/21 scholars drawn from 160 countries. I will be pursuing MScEcon – Politics and Public Policy at Cardiff University, Wales. This is a prayer answered and I am so honored for this award.

This post is for anyone at the verge of giving up on a dream after experiencing a major setback just right next to the finish line. Try one more time, push yourself harder and it wont be in vain.

There are many lessons I have learnt from #MyCheveningJourney that I will share in this #ChosenForChevening series, on my interview preparation, the waiting period and finally the big news😊. For instance, throughout my essay writing, it dawned on me how much more I can do to link existing interventions in building communities for sustainable change. Now more than ever, I appreciate my networks and look forward to forging many more in the coming days.

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A major shout out and thank you to the Chevening FCO secretariatthe British High Commission in Kenya and Cardiff University for according me this once in a lifetime opportunity to pursue my Masters in a world class environment that I believe will tool me with requisite skills to transform my Country and serve my purpose.

I am forever grateful to my mentors, referees, Chevening scholars, colleagues, friends and family for their great support throughout the application and interview process. I surely would not have come this far without their support.  Above all, I give thanks to God for this amazing opportunity and pray for His divine strength in serving my country through the knowledge, skills, networks and opportunities that come with this key milestone.

For more on #MyCheveningJourney look out for more posts coming soon.

Applications for 2021/22 Chevening awards will open on 3rd September. If you are interested in this great opportunity, look out for the open calls on the Chevening platforms.

 

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