Adebayo Afuape is a Food Science and Technology graduate from a humble village in Ibadan, Nigeria. He would have gone the usual way of thinking he had no chance at foreign education and simply settled for a job in his hometown all the while dreaming of what he could become with a little more exposure.
But Adebayo was not beholden to the thought that he did not deserve a scholarship that would enable him study in the most prestigious schools in the world, FREE. On the 23rd of May, the First Class graduate of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, put a call across to AfterschoolAfrica to share the good news about his VLIR-UOS scholarship courtesy of the Belgian Government, after many years of searching out scholarship opportunities. Read Adebayo’s story.
Can you tell us how you got to know about the scholarship?
I started early to search for scholarship opportunities so I got to know about the VLIR-UOS scholarship in my 300-level, which was about three to four years ago. It stemmed out of the fact that I wanted to further my education abroad. So I started researching through websites and God so good, I came across AfterschoolAfrica.com where I was able to know not only about this scholarship but also about a lot of others.
So you applied for other scholarships before you finally got this scholarship?
Yes. I applied for some other scholarships around the same time last year.
What school has given you this scholarship?
It’s actually an inter-campus scholarship, comprising of two universities – Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and University of Ghent. I will be doing a two-year programme in the two universities.
My first degree is in Food Science and Technology. For the Scholarship program I am lucky to be admitted to undertake a similar course which is Masters in Food Technology.
The scholarship I have been awarded covers everything, from my Tuition fees and living expenses to my books.
Ok. How do you feel about winning this scholarship?
It’s a very great feeling. Anybody that hears about it also feels happy for me, not because I’m leaving Nigeria because I’m still coming back to Nigeria. But it’s not easy. For someone to get something that everybody wants, it’s massive. I have the opportunity to further my education in a more conducive environment where I get to use state of the art technology. I can’t wait to come back to Nigeria to impart knowledge to as many other students as possible because I would love to be a lecturer.
What were your exact thoughts before you got this scholarship? Did you think you were going to win?
Anything worth doing is worth doing well. If you are doing anything for doing sake, then you don’t really deserve it. Like I said, I started applying as early as my 300-level because when it comes to academics, it’s something I do very well. I’m always the best anywhere I go to, in my school, in competitions, because I love to study. Even though I don’t come from this rich family that can easily sponsor my postgraduate degree, I believed that with a lot of scholarships out there, I would be able to further my studies with a very good school. I was always optimistic that I would get even if it’s one school. I was denied many scholarships like the competitive Chevening scholarship. I was also denied the Erasmus Mundus scholarship because I didn’t meet up with some requirements like being proficient in French. I’m still waiting for the Newzealand scholarship board to reply me (laughs).
What documents did you have to submit and what were the processes you passed through to get you the scholarship?
I submitted my Transcript, a copy of my International Passport, WAEC results, CV in Europass format, Recommendation Letters from two Referees and notification of results. I also submitted an Employer Letter that stated I would be returning to the country and that they approve my study leave. Then I wrote the IELTS test and a Personal Statement, filled the scholarship application form and submitted all these documents together.
Did you submit these documents online?
Yes I submitted them online but they required me to submit some in hard copies. So I submitted my Recommendation letters, Transcript and the first page of the Application form through courier services.
How will study at these Belgian Universities enable you reach your goals in life?
Firstly, my short term plan should be to get my Masters from these schools that offer world class and competitive education in a course I like very much. Having being tutored by the best, undergone practicals and interactive sessions and being the best student in my department and faculty, I will have the opportunity to come back to lecture in my school. My world-class experience will enable me impart into students in the field of Food Sciences and Technology, teaching how to home-grow, package and process food.
My intermediate plan would be to have a farm in ten states in the country and maybe beyond. I would love to venture into Cassava because Cassava is not being explored at all in Nigeria. Cassava production has been left untapped even though we are a major producer of the product. There’s a lot of revenue to be generated in the exportation of Cassava.
My long term goal would be to contest for election into the Legislature so that I will be able to make laws that encourage food production, processing and marketing in Nigeria. I would also love to be the Director of NAFDAC sometime so that I can oversee the production of our drugs and food and eradicate these foods that are harmful to us.
What advice or encouragement would you give to students who are searching for scholarships?
Everything has to do with information. Many people are aware of these scholarships but don’t know how to apply. So they just go back to the school they finished from and life goes on. We don’t really research here for what will benefit us. Most of us youths pay for data every single month and at the end of the month, we have spent money but there’s nothing of value we have gotten from the money we have spent. There are lots of scholarships out there that fit different courses and degrees and a lot of people from Africa are winning them. I have friends who have won scholarships in Belgium that are waiting to welcome me. So students should learn to make researches.
People must also be very confident in themselves. I even had friends and family members who tried to discourage me saying all sorts of things like I couldn’t beat the competition and that the money I would spend on processing my application, sitting for the IELTS test, paying for courier services and all, would go to waste at the end of the day. There must be some effort coming from the student even if the scholarship is free.
Then you see that some people are so conscious of money. We want everything to be free of charge. I have a lot of colleagues who wanted scholarships too but immediately they see any scholarship that requires them to take the English Proficiency test, they back off at once, no matter how easy the scholarship might be. Nothing is free in Freetown.
Also, students should be more flexible with their choices. Everybody is clamouring to have their Masters in the US, UK and Canada. The schools in those places are now too hard to get into. Students can choose other schools in other countries and still make a wise decision. For example, I just got a scholarship to take my Masters in Belgium. When I want to apply for my PhD, I will have greater opportunity to cross into any country I want because by then, I would have had the international exposure.
The truth is Africans are respected out there. The white people respect our brains because we are indeed very smart people. So we don’t have to undermine our talents and lower our expectations.
Any last words?
I just want to thank the team at AfterschoolAfrica. There are a lot of scholarship platforms but I started with AfterschoolAfrica and I continued with them because their newsletters are filled with quality information about scholarships every time.
Thank you Adebayo, We wish you the very best as you further your studies and enjoy your time in Belgium.
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