In the middle of March 2023, Jafar Usman, an alumnus of the Usmanu Danfodiyo University Sokoto (UDUS), received news that he had won the highly-competitive Russian Open Door Olympiad Scholarship. UDUS is one of the second-generation Nigerian universities established by the Nigerian government in 1975.
While the achievement is a dream come true, Usman noted that graduating from UDUS prepared him for the feat.
Landing the Scholarship
In Usman’s words, “The Russia Open Door Olympiad scholarship is a 100% merit-based opportunity, structured in a competition format. This is what distinguishes Open Door scholarships from others. The Competition has two rounds for Master’s applicants and three for PhD applicants.”
The first stage of the application is a portfolio competition, where a candidate uploads his achievements, including scientific publications such as research journals, certificates, conferences, and motivational letters, amongst other credentials.
The second stage, which Usman described as “a critical stage where only 25% of the total applicants are successful”, is an online protract examination.
Successful applicants from the second stage proceed to the final step, where they face an interview with potential supervisors in their respective fields.
“You will be interviewed online by three supervisors,” he emphasized.
Participants who scale through the three stages will become the Olympiad winners and prize-winners, allowing them to apply for a full scholarship for full-time studies at one of the Russian universities within the quota of the Government of the Russian Federation for foreign citizens.
Usman emerged as the 64th candidate in the first round out of 515 who applied for his field of study, Biotechnology.
“42 of us made it to the second round, and only 32 participants were eventually selected after interviews with potential supervisors from Russian universities,” he revealed.
The 2022 Olympiad had 28,000 participants, from which only 1,700 were selected, with 300 winners for the PhD tract.
Usman confessed that it was not an easy task.
UDUS Prepared Me for Greatness
“My experience in UDUS is the need to struggle for everything; in classes, at the hostel and everywhere. The academic calendar was strict. The environment and the Sokoto weather are extreme. Studying at UDUS will teach you how to adjust in every situation”, Usman narrated.
He opined that a beautiful thing about studying at UDUS is that it infuses resilience in its students.
He recounted his days as an undergraduate, saying, “it takes a lot of hard work, dedication and good study habits. I was disciplined and consistent in attending classes and studying regularly, seeking help from my professors and classmates whenever I needed help. I prioritized my time and assignments using calendars and to-do lists”.
“UDUS has prepared me exceptionally well for this feat. Graduating from a department of about 15 Professors, most of whom won prestigious scholarships during their postgraduate studies, motivates me. The basic Biochemistry and molecular knowledge injected in us as undergraduates helped me win the second round of the scholarship competition.”
He continued by saying, “during my Master’s program, the lecturers emphasized critical thinking and problem solving, which helped me approach research questions with a clear and logical mindset, and this helped me pass the interview stage of the competition”.
Usman encouraged students to develop strong academic foundations, explore their interests and passions, and pursue opportunities aligned with their goals.
“Danfodites should focus on developing themselves by engaging in independent research, seeking guidance from professors and mentors in their fields of interest, staying curious and being open to new ideas. Also, embracing challenges as opportunities for growth are all ingredients for success,” he concluded.
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