Praise Mufaro Makiwa, a Chevening Scholar and graduate of MSc Enterprise and Entrepreneurship, exemplifies the adage, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Mufaro always dreamed of obtaining a UK education qualification, but his path to realizing this dream was not easy. He applied for the Chevening Scholarship four times before finally being awarded the scholarship on his fourth attempt.
Mufaro’s Chevening journey began in 2005 when he came across an Oxford University prospectus and fell in love with the UK education system. However, financial constraints prevented him from pursuing this dream.
According to an article shared on the Chevening website, Mufaro Said;
“My Chevening journey began way before I even heard about Chevening. Coming from a remote community, I grew up without having access to internet and knew nothing about the news beyond my community walls. But, in 2005, when I was in high school, I came across an old Oxford University prospectus. I read it over and over, and fell in love with the UK education system. Since then, I imagined myself in one of the British educational institutions. But this vision could not be birthed over the years due to financial constraints.”
Ten years later, he learned about Chevening Scholarships and was immediately drawn to the prestige, professional and academic networks, financial freedom, and course choice flexibility that the scholarship offered. Despite his strong academic background and interpersonal skills, Mufaro struggled to express himself clearly in writing, which was one of the major challenges he faced in his journey to being awarded the scholarship.
“In August 2015, I created an online application account on the Chevening portal without any challenge. It took me a few days to come up with my ‘wishy-washy’ essays and I quickly clicked the submit button because I wrongly assumed that Chevening Scholarships are awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis. I waited for several months until February 2016 and I received an ‘application unsuccessful’ email. Since I knew I had not put much effort, I quickly accepted my fate and moved on. When the 2017/2018 application cycle opened, I vowed that I would work extra hard and express myself in a much better way and I did exactly that. Before the end of that year’s application cycle, I was done with my essays and submitted them successfully. Come February 2017, I was very confident that I would sail through to the interview stage but fate had it otherwise. I opened my email and was greeted by the famous statement, ‘We regret to inform you that…’. What a selfish way to respond to someone who was so expectant! I was torn apart, heartbroken, and felt dejected. I even vowed to myself that I would never apply for a Chevening Scholarship again. I spent some days in grief but the fighter in told me to give it another shot, this time around, my best shot. That was the time when I met a number of Chevening ‘rejects’ on Facebook in June 2017 and we created a WhatsApp group called ‘Chevening Fighters’.”
In 2017, he applied again. But before then, Mufaro was not idle, he applied for short fellowships and also engaged in activities where he made an impact in the lives of others while also improving on his list of achievements and experiences. Additionally, he built a relationship with like-minded individuals, leveraging his active social media presence. This helped him to be more equipped in writing the Chevening essays and was able to submit high-quality essays which resulted in him being invited for an interview in 2018.
“I came up with high-quality essays and I was shortlisted for an interview in February 2018. That was the best moment of my life; I was closer to the fulfilment of my dream of acquiring a UK education qualification. That was the best moment of my life; I was closer to the fulfilment of my dream of acquiring a UK education qualification. To be honest, I over-confidently prepared for that interview and I was so sure that it was my time but when the results were released on 6 June 2018, my email inbox was hit with the famous opening statement, ‘Further to your…..we regret to inform you that..’ – a regret, or a ‘love letter’ as my friends called it. I was so devastated especially when I found out that most of my colleagues in our global WhatsApp group were selected. I was emotionally low for several weeks but still, the fighter in me told me to rise up and re-strategise.” This was the third rejection he encountered.
After the third rejection, he took time to reflect on his mistakes, improved his writing skills, and networked with people from different backgrounds. This time, he was more prepared, and that’s the beautiful thing about rejections, especially when seen in a positive light. You come back better and more prepared than the previous years.
On his fourth attempt, he was finally shortlisted for an interview and was awarded the scholarship.
“Curiosity was the order of the day for the two-month waiting period to early June but I kept on praying and believing. On 9 June 2019 at 20:49, I opened my email and I was shocked by the words, ‘delighted… very impressed… conditionally selected…’. I fell on my bed face-ward and cried for a few minutes. Even as I am giving this account of my Chevening journey, I am still in shock because it took pain, patience, perseverance, and tenacity for my dream to study in the UK to become a reality.”
Like Denzel Washington once said, “If you hang around the barbershop long enough, sooner or later you’ ‘re going to get a haircut”. Mufaro’s story is an inspiration to aspiring Chevening Scholars. He hung around the barber shop until he finally got a haircut.. but it was not entirely at no cost, it took patience, hard work, diligence, resilience and a never giving up attitude. These are traits aspiring Chevening scholars should emulate, especially as the Chevening scholarship is one of the most competitive in the world.
We hope that this story inspires you to keep pushing, even in the face of adversity. Read the original story here.