Last night was indeed a charming one for a couple who won the highly competitive Chevening Scholarships to study in the United Kingdom.
Sabastine and Helen Wakdok, both qualified physicians in Abuja, were the focus of attention at a ceremony that was held in honour of this year’s recipients of the scholarships.
“We knew people would be fascinated by our luck,” Mr. Wakdok told PREMIUM TIMES at the event which held at the residence of the UK Ambassador to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright.
The couple said although they had become professionals in the public health sector for years, obtaining further education had always been at the top of their priorities.
“We’ve always wished we could go for our masters, but financial constraint had made it impossible until this opportunity came,” Mrs. Wakdok said.
They said their four years of living together as a couple contributed immensely towards crafting their essays for application.
“We aimed to flow with each other while submitting our application,” Mrs. Wakdok added. “We achieved just that.”
The Wakdoks said they hope to return with new knowledge that would help them mitigate some of the numerous public health challenges facing Nigeria.
The husband enrolled for public policy studies at the University College London; while the wife elected health policy, planning and financing at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
The Chevening is a UK government global scholarships programme offering access to Master’s degree courses in universities across the UK for individuals with ambition and leadership potential.
The one-year programme had produced thousands of master’s degree holders since it was launched in 1983 as part of Britain’s foreign policy efforts.
At least 43 people were selected from a pool of over 6,000 applicants in Nigeria alone this year — down 10 from the 53 persons who were selected out of 4,000 applicants last year.
Mr. Arkwright implored about a dozen new Chevening scholars who showed up for their certificates to deploy every skill they learn in service to their country.
“The Chevening encourages students to learn from others and to come back to their home countries to contribute to their home economy and develop their countries with the knowledge gotten from the UK educational system,” Mr. Arkwright said.
Some of the 43 new recipients received their certificates from UK Deputy High Commissioner, Laure Beaufils, at a similar ceremony held in Lagos last Thursday.
Last night’s event was attended by several Chevening alumni, some of whom narrated their experiences to bolster the preparation of the new scholars.