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Meet Ngozi & Erikah, the Winners of the 2020 Education in Ireland Study Abroad Scholarships

At Go Overseas, our mission is to “educate, inspire, and empower our global community to pursue perspective-changing experiences.” We get to help educate interested readers about traveling the world, connect people with program alumni and companies to help find the right opportunity for them, and every once in a while -- we get to change someone's life.

Of course, this couldn’t be possible without our fantastic partners at Education in Ireland and eight universities in Ireland. By joining together for the fourth time to give away over $15,000 in scholarships, Education in Ireland was excited not only to excite and delight the Go Overseas community about study abroad opportunities in Ireland, but also to make these opportunities more accessible. We sought to recruit students from across the country who would truly make the most of a study abroad experience: academically, recreationally, and by serving as an ambassador for meaningful travel at home and abroad.

To put it lightly, 2020 was a challenging year. This scholarship campaign was a fantastic opportunity to end the year on a high note: throughout the campaign, we saw submissions from students who wanted to trace their family’s roots back to Ireland, or students who had studied in Ireland before and wished to return. We read of students’ plans to read James Joyce in Dublin, to mingle with international students in Galway, to hop on a RyanAir flight for weekend getaways in Europe, and (somewhat optimistically) to kiss the Blarney Stone. This scholarship, and the confirmation that it’s still possible to study abroad in 2021, allowed students who were inspired and determined to immerse themselves in Irish culture to put their vision into action.

It might not seem like it, but the scholarship campaigns we run each year -- to encourage studying abroad in Ireland and New Zealand, as well as through our own scholarship program -- are a big project. Several members of the team work hard for weeks before, during, and after the campaign, putting in long hours to make it all possible.

Raising to the Challenge of 2020: #InnovateFearlessly

There's one moment that makes all that hard work worth it: the surprise. Once we've received the applications, reviewed all the finalists, and chosen the winner, we would typically fly to that student's school and surprise them with a giant check. 2020 forced us to get creative, but one of our values is to #InnovateFearlessly, and we rose to the challenge.

This year, we connected with our two winners’ friends and family to organize remote surprises through Zoom. While we may have missed the opportunity for an impromptu cross-country trip, the energy of the surprise was not diluted by the long distance. And don’t worry--we mailed them the giant check.

Meet Ngozi: Winner of the 2020 Scholarship to Pursue a Masters Degree in Ireland

Ngozi has an undergraduate degree in biology and an MSc student in Global Health and Development. She was selected from nearly 2,000 applicants to receive the prize of full tuition, a cost of living stipend of $14,000, and round trip airfare to pursue her Masters degree in Ireland.

In her application essay, Ngozi compared herself to Emma Nabiri, an Irish-Nigerian author, and wondered if the author would have imagined a Black American girl eagerly devouring her writing in her hometown of Dublin. “Truthfully, I did not imagine myself here,” wrote Ngozi.

Yet this is the natural momentum of her work. She will spend her days in Dublin studying Race, Migration, and Decolonial Studies, which, integrated with her background as a global health practitioner, will provide relevant insight into the COVID-19 crisis and its long-term effects. “As an emerging global health practitioner and public engagement team member for ‘Race and Health’,” writes Ngozi, “I have the advocacy tools to promote global health equity for all across different backgrounds.”

Meet Erikah: Winner of the 2020 Scholarship to Study Abroad in Ireland

Erikah is an undergraduate student at the University of Pittsburgh studying business. Her application was selected from approximately 1,500 applicants to win the undergraduate study abroad award. Erikah will receive tuition for one semester at Trinity College Dublin in Ireland, in addition to a $7,000 living stipend and round trip airfare.

According to Erikah, she’s been a fighter ever since elementary school: ”a fighting Irish, to be exact,” she writes, referencing her elementary school mascot. She credits this persevering spirit with her decision to join the varsity football team in high school when the team was short on players, as well as her choice to attend college out of state.

“It was this mindset that enabled [me] to find [my] passion: emboldening [myself] and finding strength in strengthening others,” writes Erikah. By immersing herself in a new culture, she’ll have the opportunity to work towards her own goals and act as an advocate for her community.

Future Ambassadors: Becoming Global Citizens

Ngozi and Erikah’s strong applications and creative vision boards (pictured above) helped them stand out from the thousands of students who applied this year. Most notable was their evident dedication to maximizing their time abroad and paying forward what they learn. This commitment helped our team at Go Overseas and our partners at Education in Ireland feel confident that they will be fantastic ambassadors for Ireland for years to come.

Ngozi has already sought out community groups online to join the discourse with her peers in Ireland. She believes that “ambassadorial potential is often cultivated in and out of the classroom,” and adds, “I want to dialogue with my classmates as well as members of the larger Irish community about our shared experiences.”

“I believe that, to maximize your global impact, a rich cultural understanding is crucial,” adds Erikah in anticipation of her time abroad. “Studying abroad is one of the best ways a student can acquire global skills and expand their personal and professional network.”

Congratulations, Ngozi and Erikah!

Be sure to check out the video we made to document our socially-distant surprise!

Lastly, if you’d like to be in Ngozi’s and Erikah’s shoes in the future, check out our scholarship resource page to learn more about other scholarships we offer. We have a resource on study abroad scholarships and grants that you might find helpful, too.

Thanks to all the applicants who applied, and our partners: Education in Ireland, Dublin City University, Maynooth University, National University of Ireland - Galway, Trinity College Dublin, UCD Smurfit Business School, University College Cork, University College Dublin, and University of Limerick.