Reflections from a Grace Scholar: Uchechukwu Ogbonna
The Grace Scholarship Program is the result of a partnership between PVF and a donor to provide the critical gap funding necessary for bright, low-income Zimbabwean students who are a part of the US Achievers Program (USAP) to study at US and European universities.
We interviewed a few of the Grace Scholars to learn more about their background, experiences in college, and plans for the future. Below is our interview with Uchechukwu Ogbonna, a first year student at the Watson Institute at Lynn University in Florida.
Tell us about your decision to study outside of your home country.
As a little girl, I always envisioned myself studying outside Zimbabwe. As my high school years drew closer to an end, I had no idea how I was going to make it possible, but I still thought about it. As I reflect on it now, I realize that I talked about going to the University of Zimbabwe. Again, I could never visualize it because I saw myself in a different space that wasn’t necessarily the typical way to go. I had heard about the USAP program, and how it had gotten seniors at my high school to work on college applications in the United States. As a result, when our deputy headmaster and the senior teacher brought the application forms to our Upper Six class, I was excited to fill out the application form.
I’d say I wrote my heart out as I filled out the form because I was communicating my passions and bringing myself as I was and what I hoped to do about the stigma and mental health issues in Zimbabwe. I was beyond thrilled to be accepted into the USAP program, and that began my journey to college in the United States. I was matched with different schools and was accepted to Watson Institute at Lynn University, where I am studying Social Entrepreneurship. I am majoring in my mission.
Was it difficult transitioning to a different culture?
The transition was a process, some days, it was more natural, and other days it seemed more challenging to get accustomed to the way of living in the United States. However, with time and intention, I managed to settle. Being a part of the Watson program did help ease the transition. Watson is more of a family, and the Watson team is always there to guide me when I am unsure how to proceed as well as to offer support when I am going through a tough time personally.
What is your most significant accomplishments at school thus far?
My greatest accomplishment so far is being accepted into the Ambassador Corps program for the upcoming summer. The Ambassador Corps is a summer internship program that is organized by Lynn’s Social Impact Lab. I am happy to have been accepted into this year’s cohort as it is an opportunity to learn and grow as a Social Entrepreneur.
How has the Grace Scholarship helped you pursue your goals?
The Grace scholarship has been very instrumental in my attending college. Through it, I have been able to come to the United States. Without it covering the huge gap in my tuition, room, and board, I would not have made it to college, nor would I have had the opportunity to take part in everything I’ve had a chance to do. Thanks to the Grace scholarship, I get to enjoy my experience at school, attend classes, and grab opportunities without stressing about any the gaps in financial aid. The Grace has made it possible for me to be a part of a beautiful program that is molding me into a change maker.