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Nigerian man, who was rejected 39 times, shares scholarship success story

A Nigerian man identified as Agboola Akinola Afees has taken to social media to tell his scholarship success story, sharing beautiful photographs of himself and school in Canada.

The scholarship, a Mastercard-sponsored programme, came after Agboola had been rejected 39 times by various international scholarship sponsors such as Chevening, Erasmus Mundus and Commonwealth Shared Scholarship.

Agboola, who is the founder of BLOOM Entrepreneurship Leadership and Advocacy Centre, noted that the rejections comprised 21 scholarships and 18 fellowship.

Agboola Akinola Afeez

Describing his earlier rejection mails as “sweet LOVE letters, Agboola Akinola Afees, who will be having his masters degree in McGill University, acknowledged he knew from the beginning that the journey was not going to be easy.

According to him, not finishing his first degree with a firstclass (despite an encouraging 4.43 CGPA) could have been responsible for the long wait.

In his words:

“5 years, 39 REJECTIONS (sweet LOVE letters🤣) – 21 scholarships and 18 fellowships rejections.

“The story of ONE YES.

“If anyone had told me in 2016 when I started the scholarship hunting that it would take me five years before I eventually won a scholarship, I would have probably not believed. Although I knew not being a First-Class Graduate (a story for another day) might limit my chances, I was determined to give it all it takes.

“After all, who allows a 4.43 CGPA, despite active participation in school politics, to go to waste (chuckles)? I never knew it would take this long but I had a strong conviction that I would never QUIT and no matter the number of NOs, they will never stop my ONE YES of great opportunities to come.

“I decided I would keep going as long as age would permit me. I made a promise with God and I asked Him to grant my wish of a fully paid master’s programme outside Nigeria and I can’t but thank Him again for granting the wish, beautifully, in one of the best universities in the world.

On keeping on

“Where I got the strength to keep on, I can’t explain but it was worth it eventually. I also enjoyed the support of my family members for the motivation and prayers and many other people (I will soon appreciate).

“But now, I must thank two great people in my life who gave the best reference letters anyone could get – Prof. Seun Kolade and Mr Rotimi Olawale (My boss).

“I can’t thank you both enough, perhaps, the win would have been another NO but for the truly great words, you put forward on my person.

On names and years of opportunities, the 4.43 CGPA graduate made a longlist to highlight the opportunities he had missed due to rejections.

Agboola Akinola Afeez

“The opportunities I applied for and REJECTED:

  1. Commonwealth Shared Scholarship – 2016, 2017, 2019, 2020
  2. Chevening Scholarship – 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
  3. The Yenching Academy, Peking University, China – 2019, 2020
  4. PETaL EMJMD – Play, Education, Toys & Languages – 2019
  5. Erasmus Mundus – International Master in Adult Education for Social Change (IMAESC) – 2016, 2020 (RESERVE)
  6. GLODEP Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree – 2017
  7. Mastercard McGill University – 2019
  8. Mastercard Edinburgh – 2020
  9. Australia Awards Scholarship – 2019
  10. Erasmus Mundus Master in Research & Innovation in Higher Education – 2019, 2020
  11. The University of North Dakota – 2017
  12. EMMIR – European Master in Migration and Intercultural Relations – 2016
  13. Atlas Corps – 2017, 2019, 2020
  14. YALI Mandela Washington – 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019, 2020
  15. YALI RLC West Africa – 2017, 2018
  16. British Council Future Leaders Connect – 2017, 2018
  17. ONE Champion – 2019, 2020
  18. World Youth Forum – 2018, 2019
  19. Kashim Ibrahim Fellowship – 2020

Of IELTS exams and expiration

Between 2015 and 2021, the Masterclass Foundation Scholar recalled that he wrote IELTS twice as the first one expired in 2017 without securing a scholarship.

Agboola Akinola Afeez

He encouraged others seeking for scholarship opportunities, especially abroad, to keep trying as they draw inspiration from his story.

He said: “Within this time, I wrote IELTS two times in 2017 (7/9 Band – expired without any scholarship won) and 2019 (7.5/9 Band – not required by my current school).

“Are you thinking of quitting, well, here you have your story to keep you going? You may change the plan, the strategies, ‘pause and play’, ruminate and ask yourself “what do I need to do better?” (I did too – a story for another day as well) but don’t change the goal.”

About the author

Ridwan Adelaja

Venture analyst focusing on African tech startups, founders and the Big Five ventures: Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Google and Microsoft.

He also takes time out to showcase amazing African thought leaders. Before coming to maintain his spotlight column on Quillcastle Nigeria, he anchored Youngfrica TV Show on CBA TV during his stay in Hargeisa, Somaliland.

Tel: +2348025300029

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