David Afikuyomi’s (BSc 2015) dream of completing a Master’s in Research (MRes) in Economics was almost ended because of financial concerns. But after securing an Opportunity Bristol studentship through the University’s Black Bristol Scholarship programme, David was able to start his course last year.
Here he explains the impact the scholarship has made on his life and his plans for the future.
When I got the email telling me that my application for a Black Bristol Scholarship had been successful, I was so shocked that I threw my phone across the room! I picked it up, read the email again, ran a couple of laps of my flat and then burst out crying. I just couldn’t believe it.
In the weeks leading up to that moment, I had decided that I’d have to defer my place because I couldn’t see how I would fund the year without a stream of income. The Economics MRes course is very rigorous and it would have been hard to earn enough in a part-time job to support myself while studying. When I found out I had a scholarship a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders; it felt like the world was on my side.
My ultimate dream is to complete a PhD in Economics and doing an MRes takes me another step closer to that. Eventually I want to go into academia and teach economics in the UK and in Nigeria. At each stage of my economics career there have been fewer people like me – fewer Black students and teachers. I want to bring a greater diversity of thought into the profession and teach the subject from a different perspective. This MRes is helping me to build research skills that I can take directly into the job market. It’s taking me exactly where I want to go.
I did my undergraduate degree at the University and since then, I’ve always felt like Bristol is my home. I’ve had some of the best times of my life here and met my closest friends, so the decision to come back was a no-brainer. After I graduated, I stayed in touch with a few of my tutors and lecturers and they advised me on career decisions and helped me to think through research ideas for a PhD. They’ve become part of my mentor group really, which is one of the reasons why I feel a strong connection to the University and the Economics department.
The choice to continue on into higher education is a personal one, but the gains we make when more people can access education are societal. Think about how much we have gained from the scientists who have guided us through the pandemic for example – most of that research has come from universities. Unfortunately not everyone has the financial ability to continue on into further education, which is why scholarships like this are so important.
It’s incredible to be one of the first ever ambassadors for the Black Bristol Scholarships programme. I feel very honoured and grateful. I want to act as a good example for other people who might apply for the scholarship in the future. Often people don’t know that there are scholarships out there that can help them, or they feel like they wouldn’t be able to secure one. I want to make sure I show other people like me that it is possible.
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