A good way to learn is to learn from the experiences of others. There are so many questions when it comes to applying for scholarships: When should I start applying? What do I need to look out for? What will improve my chances of getting the scholarship? These and many more questions you probably have are valid. In our interview with Alexander, we try to understand how he has been successful in getting full scholarships twice to study abroad and what tips he has to share.

Alexander Ezenagu: Commonwealth Scholar and McGill University Dean’s Award Scholar

Alexander read law at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria where he graduated with a first class degree in law. He proceeded to the Nigerian Law School, Lagos campus for his bar qualification certificate. He completed his studies, graduating also with a first class degree from the Nigerian Law School. After a few years of legal practice in Lagos, he successfully obtained a Cambridge-Commonwealth scholarship to fund the full costs of his LLM degree at the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom. Currently, Alexander is studying for his PhD degree at McGill University, Canada and is the recipient of the Graduate Dean’s Award in Law.

We asked Alexander some of the most frequent questions we get from our subscribers and users. Continue reading to learn from his experience.

What was the application process for your scholarships?

For the masters scholarship, application for the scholarship was inserted in the application for the admission to study at the University of Cambridge. However, a personal statement to support the application for the scholarship was required.

The application process for my PhD scholarship was similar to that of the LL.M. I indicated in the application process for the Phd admission that I would love to be considered for the scholarship.

How many months to the deadline did you start applying for the scholarships?

For the masters scholarship, I applied at the same time of applying for the admission, which must have been 2 months to the deadline. For the PhD scholarship, the application for the scholarship was also done at the same time as the application for the PhD admission.

Did you have to pay any fee for the scholarships?

No, payment was not required for both masters and PhD scholarship.

How did you write your scholarship application? And what tips do you have for candidates applying for scholarships?

The advice will be to tell a story particular to you and your experience. Be deliberate about the narrative and don’t be shy to “sell” yourself adequately.
For the PhD scholarship, I had to focus on applying for the PhD admission, and making a strong case for that. The scholarship came as a consequence of getting the PhD admission.

What do you think made you stand out?

For the masters scholarship, my grades, as Cambridge is big on grades. Also, my story of keen interest in the development of the African continent.

For the PhD scholarship, the quality of the research proposal, coupled with my CV helped in being awarded the admission and the scholarship.

Did you have to visit any website to gather information that you used for applying for the scholarships?

For the masters scholarship, I don’t recall doing that. However, I advise a thorough approach in applying for admissions and scholarships.
For the PhD scholarship, I spent considerable amount of time on the McGill university website, which was helpful in applying for both the admission and scholarship.

How long after applying did you get the scholarship?

For the masters, the scholarship came in July, though I got the admission sometime in February of the admission year.

For my PhD, the scholarship came with the award of admission.

Did you have to take a proof of English test before applying for the scholarships?

For the masters scholarship, in some sense. I had asked for a waiver and was administered some other form of assessment of my english knowledge

For my PhD scholarship, I did not have to. Having obtained a degree from Nigeria and the United Kingdom, that requirement was waived.

For your masters scholarship, did you have any other qualifications in addition to your undergraduate degree?

No, I had only my LL.B and bar qualification certificate.

What advice do you have for candidates applying for scholarships?

The trick to obtaining a scholarship is to have a well-written CV, personal statement and a good understanding of the purpose and objectives of the scholarship. Any document in support of the scholarship must be written to reflect the objectives and purpose of the scholarship.  

Thank you to Alexander for taking the time to share his story on getting scholarships twice and for answering our questions. We hope his story has given you some insights on how to write a good scholarship application. If you have more questions please let us know in the comment section below.

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