LAWAL OGUNFOWORA

Fresh out of the University of Ibadan as a First-Generation student with no connections, I doubt anyone would fault me for being scared and worried even though I finished as the best student in my class with a CGPA of 6.9 out of 7.0. During my last days in the University, a very good friend informed me about the Opportunity Funds Program (OFP) and I had gone through the program page to see what it is about. I realized that it would be the lucky strike for me given that even if I managed somehow to secure a full ride for my PhD at Purdue (which is my dream school), neither I nor my family can afford the initial visa and travelling costs. The OFP portal was opened for a month and that was exactly how long it took me to prepare my application after which I submitted it two hours to the deadline. I got called for an interview, was in Kano for NYSC camp, had to come down to Ibadan to get materials, then to Lagos (with no one to stay with), interviewed, and then back to Kano to complete the NYSC camp. Then of course the extreme joy I felt when I got the congratulatory mail is understandable even though it came with a lot of conditions. Now, all I had to do was commit and push myself hard. Writing tests, getting my resume ready, writing the statement of purpose, checking for schools, mailing professor, etc. To say it was overwhelming would be quite an overstatement but then I pulled through because of the unique support system the OFP family provided me. I had people with similar dreams who also understood my socio-economic troubles. The EducationUSA advisors, my colleagues, the monthly sessions all created beautiful memories for me and kept reassuring me that my dreams are valid! On the last day of 2019, I had the first invite for an interview from the University of California at Davis. It was so surreal! Then others came, including my beloved Purdue! I got in! Six months later (the time of typing this), I still randomly muse over the question; How was I able to secure an offer at Purdue (with four other full rides) fresh out of the University? And truly, I might never be able to definitively answer that question, but this I certainly know; that without the Opportunity Funds Program and the support of the EducationUSA family, I would not have pushed so hard for my dreams!