This will probably be the most personal post i will ever make. I write this blog sitting in the Lounge of Entebbe International Airport as i wait to board my flight to the United Kingdom to start on my journey of chasing my dreams. I know that you are probably reading this and saying “Eeehh maama. Lucky girl.” Yet, it has not always been like that and I will tell you why.
From time immemorial, I have been a fan of the University of Cambridge. My teachers and professors all encouraged me to aim for other law schools like Harvard, Oxford, Cornell, Columbia, NYU etc. But my heart has always been with Cambridge. Cambridge excites me. Cambridge gives me a thrill that i cannot explain. Cambridge is Cambridge. Regardless of how many law schools offered me admission, Cambridge kept calling out my name and I have always been willing to answer it.
After finishing law school, i started on the process of applying to Cambridge. And obviously since I did not have the required GBP 35,000 I knew that it was time to look for scholarships. So naturally, i just applied for the only scholarship i knew which was the Commonwealth Shared Scholarship. And then March came and I WAS ADMITTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE!!! Yes, you heard right!! I was admitted. I was excited. I was elated. I was over the moon. On the same day as my graduation from the bar, i got an email from the Cambridge Trusts stating that I had been nominated for the only scholarship i had applied for. Double happiness. Michael Jackson moves. Jason Derulo flips. I was that excited.
I filled in the nomination form and waited to receive communication about whether or not i had got the scholarship! In early June, the scholarship recipients were announced.
AND I WAS NOT AMONG THEM!
Naturally, i was numb. I was emotionless. I was speechless. I was disappointed. My world came crushing. This was the biggest rejection of my life. It was not fair. I was sad. I felt like a failure. I questioned my capabilities and my intelligence and felt like i was the dumbest person in the world. How is it possible that my name was not on the list? Had they skipped it by mistake? What? How? Where? Too many questions whose answers I could not find. I later received an email stating that i had been reserved and would only get the scholarship if one of its recipients was unable to take it on.
Disappointed and torn apart, I had to think. What next? How was I going to pay BP 35,000? Over the next few weeks, I thought and thought and after praying about it, i painfully wrote to the Law School withdrawing my acceptance of the offer on grounds that I did not have the required funds. And it was heartbreaking as can be.
Fast forward to October 2014 and i reapplied for admission. This time around, i applied for 4 other scholarships including the Commonwealth Shared Scholarship. Once again and by the grace of God, i was admitted for the second time in a row and i watched many others being rejected even with better grades and first class degrees.
And one by one, the scholarships deemed it fit not to consider me. First, I was not admitted to my first choice college and with it, i lost the chance of being considered for 2 scholarships! Then another independent scholarship I had applied for from another college wrote back telling me that I was unsuccessful as well. But i held onto the hope of a Commonwealth Shared Scholarship. I knew God would hear my prayers.
One fine Sunday morning, i woke up to an email from the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission. I panickingly opened the email and amidst the long letter, the first word i saw was “…….was unsuccessful…” Yes, you read it well.
Not even reserved like the last time. Unsuccessful!! My reaction was total disconnection. I was neither sad nor happy. I just remember laughing out so loud and just waking up and freshening up to go to church. And to church I went. I remember when we were asked to tell our neighbors our prayer requests, i just told her that I had no prayer request and just had a lot to thank God for. My mother taught me to praise God in the storm and I was not about to let her down.
I may have been disappointed but I was still alive. I was breathing. I was well. I was healthy. I had breakfast. My fridge had drinks and food. I had money in my wallet. My parents were alive and well. I had reason to be thankful to God.
Sometime in November last year, i had applied for a Chevening award. It was one of those things you do on an idle day. I applied just for the sake of it. Nothing serious. It was just something i impulsively did. it was one evening as I sat in my office after a long day, waiting for the rain to stop falling so that I could go home. I had seen the social media posts about the Chevening awards and duly ignored them.But now that I was idle and disorderly, I decided to just have a look at it. I ended up creating an account and applying.
Despite that, I was really not interested. Maybe because I was beyond sure that I would get funding from the other scholarships. Also because in one random conversation i had with a friend, she had mentioned that with Uganda’s level of corruption, getting such a scholarship is almost impossible.
But also I knew that such scholarships attract many applicants. I later found out that over 700 applicants from Uganda had applied for this scholarship. After applying, I totally forgot about it.
In February this year, I opened my google mail as usual to check for a certain email I was waiting for. It is then that i saw an email stating that I had gone through the first stage of the selection process which is the initial assessment by a committee of independent experts in the UK and that the application had been sent to the British High Commission in Kampala for assessment.
I didn’t really read much into it and just ignored it. Then in March, i got an email stating that I had been shortlisted for the interview.
Suddenly I started to pay attention.
It was the same attention that Paul (then Saul) paid when he met the Lord on his way to Damascus. A sudden unexpected interruption.
I discovered that out of over 700 applicants, only 24 had been shortlisted for the interview and that only 8 scholarships would be awarded. I was shocked more than excited. I wondered if the committee had made a mistake and put my name instead of someone else’s name.
I started to pay attention. It felt like God had finally got my attention. I booked my interview date for the first available day for the interview. I don’t believe in procrastinating and I wanted to get done with it as soon as possible. I really didn’t prepare much for the interview until the actual day of the interview. At exactly 2.30pm, my interview that had been scheduled for 3pm commenced. I had to face a panel of 3, including 2 high level diplomats and a Chevening alumni.
I decided that I would speak from my heart. After close to 50 minutes, my interview that should have lasted 30 minutes, ended.l
I cannot describe how I felt after that interview. Mixed feelings of failure and uncertainty. I kept wondering if i would have done more. If i could have said more. If i could have spoken less or If i had impressed the panel.
What followed were 2 months of waiting. Personally, i knew i was not going through so i was not paying any attention to the updates that were being given by Chevening.
PAGE BREAK: The above was written in May 2015. A friend of mine always told me to do things as if they have already happened. So i wrote most of this first part way before the events listed below actually happened. It was a demonstration of faith that the next half of my story would bear fruit and give God the glory. The story following below is what i wrote on 2nd June after the events listed herein under had taken place.
I had spoken to one of the applicants before and we had made fun that calls from 0312 were to be avoided in May because obviously they would be from the British High Commission and have the potential of bearing bad news. I had saved the number of the British High Commission and gone through a rehearsal of how my heart would pump when the call finally came through.
The day was 28th May 2015 at about 7.30pm. Earlier on in the day, I had attended a Uganda Law Society training on financial crime. The training ended earlier than anticipated so I headed back home to do my laundry that had been pending for weeks. Doing my laundry took longer than i expected. I had soaked my towels as the last items to be washed. Just before I washed the towels, I went to check my phone which I had left in my bedroom.
I suddenly felt the need to check my Facebook and see what was going on. I was drawn immediately to an inbox message and on opening it, it was from one of the applicants telling me to check my email and that the results had been posted. I wish I had the right words to describe my feeling at that moment. My heart was pumping faster than Eminem rapping. My palms were sweating. I was shaking. I wanted to go to the toilet but my legs would not move. I couldn’t stand as my knees were weak. So i sat on my carpet!
In confusion, I logged into my online Chevening application account. IT WAS BLANK! All my information had been deleted and there was nothing. I was confused and wondered what happened. Its only 2 minutes later that I realized that I should be checking my email and not logging into my application.
I started looking for my GMAIL app on my phone but because of the confusion and the tension, I couldn’t even find my app. Finally, I found the app and opened it. And the email was right there.
“We are pleased to…”
That is all I read! Pleased. Pleased. Pleased. My English teacher told me that pleased is usually accompanied by good news. I did not even read the entire email.
YES! FINALLY!!! CHEVENING HAD GIVEN ME A CONDITIONAL OFFER FOR A FULLY PAID LLM AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE!! YES!!
I was screaming, jumping up and down and crying at the same time. “Thank you Lord. Thank you Lord” was all I could find strength to say. It was finally over. I called my mum to break the news to her but all i managed to tell her was “I am through!” and she kept asking me what that meant but i just kept repeating and then switched off the phone. Later i was able to calm down and call her and dad and tell them and also tell my siblings and a few friends. I was happy. I was elated. I was thankful to God. God had been faithful to the very end even when i doubted him out of frustration and wondered if he was listening to me or was simply deaf.
What followed was a long process of sending various documentation to the UK, of getting my university offer confirmed and sitting my IETLS to show proof of proficiency in the English language. And God was faithful through each and everything. I passed my IETLS and my conditional scholarship offer was confirmed. (In the future, I will be blogging about my Chevening journey separately)
So much happened after that, but that is not the essence of this post.
Anyone who knows me will tell you how private I am. I never post my life on social media or on the internet. This will probably be the first and the last time I do this. If I “undress” my heart and allow myself to lose my privacy by sharing this very personal experience with strangers, It is because I want you to know that dreams do come true and that God is faithful. He will never test you beyond what you can handle. He will never give you a burden greater than your loading capacity.
I want you to know that he is a faithful God. He hears and in his own perfect timing, he will come through. He listens to our heart’s desires and will work out something for us. He sees our frustrations and they break his heart just as much as they break our hearts. You have got to be determined. You have got to try again. You must be willing to start all over again. You must go through the process. You simply cannot give up. There is no place for small dreams in the kingdom of God. Go big or go home!
I write this because I want to challenge you to dream big. I want to challenge you to get out of your comfort zone. I want to revive that dream in your heart! I want to cause you to think about that dream again. That dream is still as valid today, as it was then!
2nd October 2015
So i am encouraging to try again. You owe it to yourself and your God to do so. Do not give up. Its just a matter of time!
From cold Cambridgeshire, England, praying for you to have the strength to try again. Best wishes!