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Scholarship Application Essay for Woman Applicant, Food Scientist

Since childhood, studying and learning have been my central lifelong pursuits motivated by curiosity along with a keen and constant desire for continuous self-development. I have always longed for the challenges and felt called by the need for intellectual freedom and the search for new opportunities to learn and apply what I have learned to societal development.

As a food scientist, proper nutrition to keep people healthy is the center of my own personal world. In my own volunteer and professional activities so far, it is my work in an orphanage that most clearly suggested to me the vast need for improvement in this area, especially for our less fortunate members of society who tend to share a lot in common in terms of diet and subsequent health challenges. As part of the completion of my undergraduate studies, I performed extensive research concerning our Ronpalm Shoots here in Africa, learning how to engage in research effectively and professionally and laying forndations for my future. This culminated in my undergraduate thesis:  “Chemical, Functional and Pasting Properties of African Ronpalm Shoots.”

Preliminary research that I later engaged in as a Master’s student pointed me towards  epicatechin; a flavanol in milk chocolate, and its effects on vascular health. The forthcoming research involved a human trial, intervention process, examination of brachial artery activity and supine blood pressure as primary and secondary outcomes, and statistical analysis. The study confirmed the preventative effects of epicatechin on cardiovascular disease or its risk markers such as diabetes and hypercholesterolemia. I look forward now to continuing to puruse this and realted avenues of research as a PHD student studying, in particular, the effects of dietary flavonoids and Vitamin D supplementation on vascular functions and cardiovascular risk markers. Especially keen to learn everything that I can about validation studies, my professional dream of a lifetime would be to have the profound privilege to engage in research alongside teams of scientists at the XXXX Center for Functional Foods and Nu- traceuticals at the University of Manitoba. I am attracted to your state-of-the-art facilities for such research and admire from afar the dedication of your faculty to some of the most important challenges that we face in Food Science.

I also crave study in Canada because of the vast freedom that it represents, particularly for a young woman from Africa and perhaps especially Nigeria. I cannot imagine a more conducive atmosphere for learning than the University of XXXX, a gender neutral environment that will allow me to achieve my goals. Frankly, women are discriminated against in Africa generally speaking and treated with the professional respect that is accorded to a man. This was especially evident to me during my undergraduate studies at Kogi State insofar as we as female students were even assessed differently, with different, more stringent standards than our male counterparts.  I see this as a case of outright gender discrimination, something with is generally more subtle but always present. This special challenge that I have faced alongside my sister students served as additional motivation for me to undertake research at the PhD level and to distinguish myself in my field so as to serve as a role model for young African women that will follow in the future and solidify the gains that we are making today, moving Nigeria forward along with the rest of Africa forward.

One of the greatest challenges facing scientists in Nigeria is the near absence of state investment in research, especially human impact research. Scientists do present papers, but so little investment is made in research facilities and initiatives that these efforts have limited value and serious, state-of-the-art research is not possible. Thus, Nigerian scientists are not generally highly motivated. Female scientists, in particular, face special challenges in their path to academic excellence.  In my department for example, the ratio of female to male faculty members is 2:9.    

Giving my all to research in a PhD Program in Food Science at the University of XXXX will enable and inspire me to make my greatest contribution to my field through participation in conferences, trainings, workshops, demonstrations, community outreach, etc. I look forward to being immersed in a flood of ideas, intellectual transactions, and professional opportunities to have a share in changing systems and having a positive impact on countless lives for generations to come, overcoming hurdles caused by lack of information and workable guidelines.  Investigating the effect of dietary flavonoids and Vitamin D supplementation, in particular, is especially important as we now face vast nutritional deficiencies throughout large swaths of the Nigerian countryside  as a result of our huge population and the fact that we are beset by social strife in Nigeria, most of it as a result of the vicious Boko Haram insurgency.

Increasingly, widespread political violence in Nigeria is resulting in an emergency crisis with respect to malnutrition, especially among children in rural areas. In fact, inadequate nutrition cuts across all demographic lines in Nigeria and has a major impact on vascular function and cardiovascular risk markers My long term goal is to contribute to a radical improvement in the very face of Nigerian nutritional ecology through participation in workshops geared towards reforming government policies; a streamlining of supply and distribution channels for the Nigerian food industry; devoting my lifetime to improving the health of Nigerians by improving the quality and quantity of their food supply. I am especially passionate about being a positive influence to female youth in my home university.

I am the fourth of four children. My mother is a widow having lost my father in 2012 after a long period of illness. The funding for my Master’s studies was made possible by the Tertiary education trust fund (TETFund) Nigeria. Radical declines in exchange rates left me and my mother responsible for paying most of my expenses by the end of the program. Thus, being awarded the Slumberger Faculty Scholarship is vital to me since my current monthly salary is only US$475 dollars and I will not be able to afford  my academic fees or living expenses.

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Sample Answers to Scholarship Application Questions, Doctor from Uganda, Scholarship to Earn the MPH Degree

Key Achievements in May Career to date (400 Words):

I am thankful for the fact that I received a full scholarship from the government of Uganda to complete medical school that covered not only tuition but also all of my living expenses as a medical student. This kind of financial assistance in my country is limited to only a handful of young people who reflect the country’s finest potential. Having come from a humble back-ground, I would never have made it to medical school without this support.

I finished high school second in my class, excelling, in particular, in Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology. I continued to do well academically as a student of medicine, despite the fact that I struggled with glossophobia; class presentations and public speaking engagements made me anxious. But, I was able to resolve this issue when I undertook a public speaking course. I now very much enjoy public speaking and assuming leadership roles in group projects. I have received two successive promotions in two years: from a Program Officer to TB/HIV Care and Treatment Specialist and then to Regional Program Manager. This is primarily because I designed, developed, and implemented an HIV Testing and Diagnosis Index, which has been highly successful, even surpassing our own targets. This attracted the attention of management.

I participated in an essay writing competition while still in medical school and my project on “Control of Leprosy” earned second place. This speaks to my profound passion for public health in Africa. I also like to think that this honour suggests a capacity to articulate our great need in the area of public health, its vast complexity, and to suggest creative ways to go forward, building upon the strides in disease prevention and control that we have already taken.

The essay competition was organised by the German Leprosy and TB Relief Association in collaboration with the TB/Leprosy control program operated by the Ugandan Ministry of Health. It was organised to create awareness about Leprosy among medical students in Uganda. I also like to think that this speaks to my potential as a communicator in and about public health in Africa, someone who is capable of bringing together and fostering successful communication between governmental public health agencies in Africa, on the one hand, and those organizations on an international level that are devoted to helping us on the other.

Why I want to study the nominated course? (400 Words).

One of my first rotations after finishing medical school, at the Mulago National Hospital, was in infectious diseases, and it was here that I discovered that I wanted very much to move my career in the direction of public health. I was profoundly impacted by seeing so much death around me; people of all ages dying of preventable/treatable/curable diseases, many of them infectious. About 4 out of 20 admissions would die due to a late diagnosis of an infectious disease such as HIV, Tuberculosis, malaria, hepatitis etc. I can vividly remember the pale looking, malnourished people admitted on the wards and I continue to dream about them occasionally to this day. The images drive me forward with great energy and a perennial sense of urgency.

As I struggled to save as many lives as I could as a young doctor, I increasingly found myself focusing on the need for greater investment in disease prevention and control, since I consistently found myself simply arriving too late on the scene of the disaster to do anything about it.

While serving at Mityana General Hospital, I began to read myself to sleep at night in the area of disease prevention, and to focus on global health issues, soon realizing that earning the MPH Degree in the Developed World was the next logical career move given my ongoing and increasing passion for public health issues coupled to a burning desire to contribute to the practice of medicine in Africa in more sustainable ways. It is my hope that my great strength in Mathematics will enable me to excel, in particular, in the Epidemiology Concentration.

I have watched with horror as infectious diseases like Tuberculosis, malaria, pneumonia and Ebola among others. These diseases exert a great deal of pressure on an already over strained health system. Earning the Master of Public Health (Epidemiology) will prepare me well for a lifetime of service on the cutting edge of research into disease control, and passing on the torch of public service to new generations of students of medicine in Uganda. and put me at the forefront in research, disease control and teaching in Uganda. I hope to continue on towards the doctoral degree in Public Health as well, at some point in my career, and distinguish myself in research focused on Uganda, as well as teaching.

How I will use my new skills and knowledge when I return? (200 words).

After finishing my graduate studies in Public Health, I plan to return to Uganda and work closely with the most prominent and efficacious groups organized through universities that further the critical mass of epidemiology, as practiced in Uganda. I look forward to conducting implementation research studies in Uganda for decades to come, contributing to a sustained uptake of new policy guidelines that translate research findings into workable and effective solutions to routine as well as extraordinary public health challenges.

My central long-term goals include starting a community-based organisation in my district which will improve referrals for health services, improving communication between the community and health facilities, and enhance early identification and subsequently, treatment outcomes. This Community Based Organisation will provide consultancy services to the residents of the district as well as the Ministry of Health, also serving as a go between for the planning of public health interventions necessary to fend Ugandans from onslaughts of infectious diseases which occur all too frequently in our country. I see my long-term strategy in medicine as a physician communicator bringing concerned parties together to reach common goals in the interest of the community as a whole.

How I believe the proposed course will contribute to future development in my country? (200 words).

I could not feel more confident in my choice of Public Health as a lifetime cause and endeavour - because of the way that it is so fundamental to the ability of people to contribute to society, and economic development on a national level

It is difficult to imagine an Africa where health is not determined at least in part on income; nevertheless, with higher levels of national development, it is hoped that the most glaring and inhumane disparities of access to care can be reduced and Africa make strides towards some kind of subsistence medical infrastructure.  

Ebola, Cholera, Hepatitis are three especially devastating scourges that continue to take thousands of lives in my part of the world, and crippling our nascent, overwhelmed health system as it stands. We need a great deal of progress made possible through international solidarity to rebuild public health infrastructure so that your systems can withstand and overcome some of these challenges.

I look forward to the day in Uganda when we can develop health care resources as an integral part of local economies, resulting in a general improvement in life expectancy throughout the country. I feel this optimism because of the intensity of my determination of that of many of my colleagues as well. For my part, I look forward to contributing to national development in sustainable ways by teaching Public Health specialists and epidemiologists of tomorrow how to best address the public health issues on the horizon.