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Sarah Dickson

Ambassador to Guatemala (June 2012 - June 2015)

Part of Chevening Conversations UK in Guatemala

11th October 2013

Keep calm, and apply for a Chevening Scholarship

Recently we said farewell to one of our Chevening Scholars, Javier Brolo, who has now left Guatemala and arrived safely in the UK. Here’s guest blog from him with some first impressions. Over to you Javier…

This is my first week of classes as a Chevening scholar at the University of Essex, and I wanted to share the process that led me to this starting point. It has been a growing experience. I feel grateful to the people that accompanied me throughout each stage and the clarity I have found in the purpose of studying political science. I hope many more people are also encouraged to challenge themselves to strive for this opportunity and apply for a Chevening Scholarship.

It all began two years ago when I started looking for a university. After having worked for some time analyzing elections, political parties, and government institutions, I became very aware that the knowledge I could gain on my own was insufficient. How to bring about the collaboration between social actors that development requires is a very complex problem. And before I could attempt to find new solutions, I realized I needed better theoretical frameworks and methodologies to understand this political challenge: collaboration.

British Ambassador Sarah Dickson and Guatemalan Chevening Scholar Javier Brolo
British Ambassador Sarah Dickson and Guatemalan Chevening Scholar Javier Brolo

So I searched for the best academic programs available in the world. I was not only interested in how well know was the name of the university, but in the opportunity they offered me to gain research skills. My first criterion was the courses they offered; that they emphasized rigorous theory and methodology as well as applications to policy making. Then, I looked that research interest of professors matched with mine. And third, I focused on the quality of the resources available such as the library and publications. The University of Essex was my first choice.

I was conscious I was being ambitious. I “had to reach for the stars if I hoped to get to the moon”. I knew I had to prepare myself as best as I could for the application process. Though, I had learned from seeing people I admire that it takes courage and determination to succeed. They taught me that unless failure is a real possibility accomplishments fall short of the best one could give.

To prepare for the application process, I focused on writing a good essay. This was my chance to express how I thought studying this program would make me capable of making a larger contribution to Guatemala. It took me weeks of reflection and revising to communicate it in a clear and authentic way.

One year later, I was admitted to the University of Essex, my first choice. However, I could not attend the program. My application to the Chevening scholarship had been unsuccessful. Excitement came to a halt.

I took time to review what I had learned in the process. I realized I hadn’t emphasized one question that the Chevening application process asked differently: why are you a leader? I saw that when cooperation is the goal, leadership could go unnoticed, because in order to empower others, a leader should take the back seat. The role of a leader in my case is to link the contributions of many towards a common objective.

After applying a second time, I´m now here in Essex, working towards acquiring the skills to offer new ways for Guatemalans to collaborate in fostering development. I hope you too can have a growing experience through your application. Take the lead.

Thanks Javier. Good luck in Essex and keep us posted on how you are doing.

If Javier has inspired you to apply for a Chevening Scholarship then the process for the academic year 2014/2015 is now open for Guatemala and Honduras. Please visit http://www.chevening.org/guatemalaandhonduras/ to get all the details.

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