The Chevening Scholarship is one of the most prestigious scholarships in the world, awarded by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Ever since its commencement in 1983, more than 50,000 people worldwide have been awarded the scholarship.
Arafat Rahaman, an Assistant Professor at the Department of International Relations, Bangabandhu Science and Technology University, is one of the Bangladeshis who received the scholarship in 2021 and is currently pursuing his higher studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).
Talking with The Financial Express about his journey, Mr Arafat said, "My Chevening journey has been full of unique experiences and new learning. To begin with, the application process itself takes almost a year. It also tests one's patience and perseverance.
First, he started to select appropriate Master's programs and universities with better modules. Then he brainstormed the key points to write the essays needed for the Chevening application. After that, he attempted to connect all of the essays so that the reader would perceive them as one cohesive story. The essays were reviewed, modified, and improved several times and were sent to many Chevening Scholars for feedback.
He added, "When I felt satisfied with the essays, I submitted my application before the deadline. After that, I started applying for the selected Master's programmes of the respective universities. Chevening essays were particularly useful for writing statements of purpose for the university admission process."
Interviews are a fundamental part of the Chevening journey. Mr. Arafat received the email for the Chevening interview after four months of applying. To prepare, he talked with some Chevening scholars about their experiences and watched some mock interviews on YouTube, which helped him prepare for the commonly asked questions.
"Reading the essays again and again that I submitted as part of the application was also crucial at that stage. The last part was waiting for the announcement of the final results, which took place in June 2021. It was a moment of great happiness when I got to know that I had been selected as a Chevening scholar," Arafat mentioned.
About some key ingredients to his success, he said, "The most important factors that helped me to succeed in each stage of the selection process were my previous leadership and networking experiences, along with a concrete connection between my intended postgraduate programme and future career plans.”
While writing the essays or preparing for the interview, he had to keep in mind that he should provide the selectors with specific examples of his leadership and networking qualities, which must help them know about his skills and successes.
Arafat Rahaman is grateful for this opportunity and has described the journey to be life-changing. According to him, the education at the London School of Economics and Political Science not only developed his academic knowledge and research skills but also showed him how to think like a true academic.
"I had the privilege of attending lectures by some of the renowned professors in my field, which provided me with many ideas that I will be able to implement in my university as well. I have also become more curious, seeking to unravel the many versions of the truth. I have developed this attitude from my interactions with people from all over the world," Arafat remarked.
He also thinks that Chevening has helped redefine his philosophy of leadership. He also got to travel a lot during his time in the UK, which helped to broaden his worldview and understand the cultural diversity across the landscapes of Europe.
In his own words, the Chevening journey has developed a newer, more polished purpose in his life that will be his North Star in the upcoming future.