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Changemaker 2 / 2  
May 6, 2019   #1

developmental challenges of poverty and inequality in Nigeria

My name is Victor Ndubuisi Okoro, from Nigeria, and I would like to express my strong interest in the Master of Arts program in Development Studies at the University of Western Cape. I was first introduced to the field of Development during my undergraduate studies. In the course of pursuing my bachelor degree, I took several courses related to development including research methods, community service, the European Union and developing countries, the third world in international relations, the Breton woods institution and the world economy, among others. During this period, I also engaged in research-oriented projects, community development initiatives and academic mentorship programs that contributed immensely to social and educational development at the university and its host communities.

In 2016, I successfully conducted an in-depth theory-based empirical research on the root causes of displacement in Nigeria. Through this research, I proffered sustainable solutions to the issue of displacement in Nigeria. Following the quality and relevance of my research, it was accepted as a conference paper by the Historical Society of Nigeria (HSN) where I was invited to present my research work. The research project was also adjudged as the best bachelor thesis out of a pool of 102 thesis in the 2015/2016 academic session by a panel of distinguished professors. Consequently, I was awarded the Departmental Bachelor Thesis Award for 2016. Also, being very passionate about community development, I initiated and coordinated a Hygiene advocacy community service project for over 1,550 high schools students from 8 public schools in Rivers State during the outbreak of the Ebola virus in 2014, as part of the mandate of the University Community Service.

I designed a toolkit to raise awareness of hand washing with sanitizer as a remedy to the spread of the deadly Ebola virus. Through this project, I contributed to reducing the spread of the Ebola virus in the University host communities. Thus, I was awarded the Vice Chancellor Community Service Award in 2015. Furthermore, in 2016, I established a mentorship program aimed at turning students with poor academic grades into high-flying students and transformational future leaders. Together with my team, I offered tutorials on selected courses as well as training in soft skills such as leadership, time management, communication, among others, for over 165 undergraduate students within one year. Following the program's contribution to raising the quality and relevance of education at the University, I was awarded the Faculty of Humanities Achiever's Award in 2016.

After my graduation, I began to develop a strong interest in pursuing a career in development because I wanted to contribute towards the society I wish to see, although, there are no quick fixes to societal challenges. Consequently, I joined Sabon Africa Development Network (SADEN), an international NGO committed to empowering women and girls to become positive change agents in their communities. As a program manager with SADEN, I implemented a grassroot empowerment program for rural women in Yola South Local Government Area of Adamawa State in 2017. I was inspired by the implementing principle of the SDGs 2030 Agenda -leave no one behind. As a result, I collaborated with a local energy solution company to recruit, train and mentor the rural women to become energy solution providers and solar entrepreneurs. Through this program, 27 women became active renewable energy advocates and solar entrepreneurs; each making an average of $1,000 annually through my mentorship. Similarly, in 2018, I initiated and coordinated a community-based skills acquisition and empowerment program in Okundi-Boki in Cross River State of Nigeria. I successfully mobilized highly qualified facilitators to provide training on vocational skills including hair-making, catering, fashion designing and ICT to over 42 young girls between the ages of 15 and 17. Through this initiative, the girls became economically independent; each contributing to sustainable economic development at the community level through implementing entrepreneurship initiatives. More so, recently, I initiated a girl education and advocacy project in Adamawa State, one of the States in Nigeria with the lowest representation of girls in primary and secondary levels of education. Through this project, I was able to sensitize the local people on the importance and benefit of girl's education and engage key education actors to improve girls' participation in education.

My daily tasks as a program manager at SADEN puts me face-to-face with core challenges faced by women and girls in accessing economic opportunities such as low-levels of education and skills, gender inequality and cultural taboos. This job has provided me with unique insights into not only the need for educational interventions but also policy changes to address these challenges. It is this consciousness that inspired me to pursue a master's in Development Studies.

Through the master's program in Development Studies, I aim to explore advanced ways to tackle the developmental challenges of poverty and inequality in Nigeria. Course modules such as Social Policy and Development and Poverty and Inequality will equip me with deeper understanding of the different policies that can be adopted by the Nigerian government to alleviate poverty and close the multi-dimensional inequality gap in Nigeria. Studying this course will provide excellent opportunity for me to interact with and be mentored by scholars like Dr. Gabriele Backer whose research interest in income and poverty aligns with issues I find most compelling in my field of practice.

Personally, this master's program will improve my conceptual, analytical and research capabilities which are necessary to understand the challenges of poverty and inequality in Nigeria. Pursuing this course will greatly enhance my networking, teamwork, intercultural competence, and language skills. It will also provide unique opportunity for me to interact with diverse highly talented young Africans; build relevant professional networks; and become part of the next generation of leaders and highly qualified experts that tackles issues of poverty and inequality from an interdisciplinary perspective.

If I am admitted into this program, teaching, research, and advocacy will constitute an integral part of my work after graduation. I intend to work with the University of Nigeria Nsukka as a lecturer in the Department of Development Studies. With this job, I will be rightly positioned to contribute to human capital development which is essential for ending poverty and inequality in Nigeria. I would also conduct evidence-based research studies that can inform and effect changes in social policy formulation and implementation in Nigeria particularly in the areas of poverty reduction and gender equality. Lastly, I will engage with actors both at the policy and grassroots levels to create a strategy for improving access to quality education for women and girls, with the goal of alleviating poverty and fostering equality at all levels in Nigeria. This will, without doubt, be of great benefit to the "Economic Recovery and Growth Plan" which is the development blueprint that Nigeria is currently running with.

Thank you for your kind consideration, and I look forward to your acceptance.
Maria - / 1,098 389  
May 6, 2019   #2
I would suggest revising your essay to create a more organic flow.

For instance, in your first paragraph:

My name is Victor Ndubuisi Okoro, a Nigerian with keen interest in the economic theme of development. I am expressing my intent to join the Master of Arts program in Development Studies at the University of Western Cape. Throughout my undergraduate studies, I was introduced to various faces of development: research methods, community service, the engagements of the European Union and developing countries, the third world, Bretton Woods, and the world economy as a whole. I have engaged in researches for community development initiatives alongside academic mentorship programs for social and economic development.


Notice how integrating your sentences will create better flows; this is especially important if you are creating application essays. When you materialize these types of content, it is pivotal that it is readable to the evaluators. You can accomplish this through not dragging your content too much.

That being said, I also recommend having more concise sentences. This is not to say that you should remove all the adjectives; merely minimizing and capitalizing only on portions that matter is a technique you should learn.

In terms of content and substance, I observe that you have clarified your background and why you deserve this spot in the first place - this is great. I recommend adding details as to why this is a personal and intimate choice for you. If you have a personal story to tell about someone close to you who has experienced this, it would be beneficial if you could incorporate that into the paper to heighten your chances.

Best of luck!
OP Changemaker 2 / 2  
May 8, 2019   #3
Thanks. I am currently reviewing the essay to incorporate your scholarly feedback.

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