Scholarship Application Essay for Woman Applicant

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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