My Mandela Washington Fellowship Journal- The Beginning

My Mandela Washington Fellowship Journal- The Beginning

More than 700 outstanding young leaders were selected from across Africa for the Mandela Washington Fellowship.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship is a flagship of Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) program that has been designed to empower young African leaders through academic coursework, leadership training, and networking.

I consider it a rare privilege to be one of the 60 fellows, selected from over 11,000 applicants from Nigeria. You can call me one of the chosen few. It was not such an easy journey however.

The application was open during a rather unideal period for me as deadlines were breathing down my neck like a hurricane. My schedule was pretty tight already, but I still had to give this amazing opportunity a trial. I diligently went through each essay question daily, while searching online for guides from past fellows.

I had downloaded the essay questions on my phone, so I was able to reflect on the questions during the day – despite my busy schedule, I got notes which I wrote down and these eventually became part of my essay answers.

As each day went by, I waited patiently for the deadline date and thanks to IREX, I was always kept up to date. On the final day for the Online application, my workplace had a conference and I was on the organizing committee which left me pretty much exhausted at the end of the day. However, with the IREX reminder email echoing in my head, I rose from my tired state to turn on the generator, to work on my essays and fortunately, I was able to complete the essays and submit before the deadline, though I had to skip the Professional Development Experience (PDE) question so as not to miss the submission deadline.

So, here I was, done and dusted, I was however scared of going through a copy of my application as I didn’t want to have the feeling of; “whoa! I missed something” but after a few weeks, I summoned up courage to go through it eventually and luckily it was on point.

The journey was not over however, as the next stage was interviews. Out of over 11,000 applications, 300 applications reached this stage and mine was one of them. You can imagine my excitement and Oh lest I forget, this was my first attempt at applying for the program, so it was pretty exciting for me at this stage.


The fact that I had to cater for my transportation and accommodation at the location of my interview which was not in my state of residence didn’t matter much as I also scaled through. This was how I got to be among the 60 Nigerians that are presently in the United States of America, learning to become better leaders and becoming socially relevant to our country and the world at large.

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