CHIKA DUEKE-EZE

I remember the day vividly, it was the afternoon of Tuesday, 28th May 2019. I had been either
surfing the web or watching a movie when a WhatsApp notification popped up on my phone. At
first glance, I was skeptical of clicking the link in the message because I thought it was one of
those "informative articles" circulated on social media. I decided to open it nonetheless. My
interest was piqued when the link redirected me to EducationUSA's Opportunity Funds Program
(OFP) web page. I skimmed the description of the program and realized that it might be a good
fit for me. I kept scrolling and then noticed that the deadline was on May 31st, which meant
that I had about two days to start, edit, review, and submit the application. I quickly copied the
essay prompts, opened a Word document, started writing down words, and eventually
submitted it in the nick of time. The rest is history.

My journey as an OFP scholar had its fair share of ups and downs. Whether it was staying up
late at night to work on SAT practice tests while feeling like I wasn’t improving or staring at a
blank Google document without any idea on how to start drafting my college essays, the
journey was quite a tough one. This is particularly more relatable when you realize that I
applied to twenty-two highly selective schools, implying that I had to really devote my time and
energy into crafting the best application possible if I wanted even the slightest chance at getting
in. On several occasions, I recall feeling extremely anxious and overwhelmed by the process
because my goal just seemed really ambitious. At some point, I even questioned the feasibility
of getting into these schools with adequate funding. Throughout the entire experience, I can
say that one thing that truly helped me thrive was the community at EducationUSA. The
support I received from my network of other OFP scholars (past and present) and general

EducationUSA members made me understand that I wasn’t alone and that served as a
motivation booster whenever I was at my low. My two advisers were also present at every step
of the journey and worked diligently to ensure my success. As an EducationUSA member, I was
able to attend info sessions where admissions officers from the most competitive colleges came
in-person to talk about their colleges. This exposure really helped me get a better grasp of the
nuances of college applications and it’s really not something you’ll get elsewhere.

In hindsight, being an OFP scholar was so pivotal to my success that I find it virtually impossible
to imagine having gone through the entire process without EducationUSA in the equation. I will
always be grateful for my Advisors, and for the friends I made there. I advise new members to
optimally utilize the network of resources available to EducationUSA members and learn to
reach out when in need of help!