Last year, Chiagozie Nneoma Dan-Nwankwo from Nigeria received a scholarship from the Elizabeth Strouven Foundation, in order to study the master’s programme Global Health at Maastricht University. She graduated this autumn, so it is time for a lookback. What has her study time been like in Maastricht? How did the scholarship contribute to her ambitions? And… what are her plans?
‘‘I found out about the Elisabeth Strouven scholarship through the internet. I saw its call for applications a few days before the deadline. At that time, I already nursed the dream of furthering my education outside my home country Nigeria, as we do not have a school here that offers the master’s programme Global Health. This study programme was really appealing to me, because I wanted to learn first-hand how you can handle (global) disease outbreaks and how you can come up with innovations on addressing the outbreak aftermath effects. In Nigeria, I worked as a hospital and community pharmacist when we had Ebola and Lassa fever outbreaks and I felt that we could have done things differently.’’
‘‘A few days before the start of the new Academic Year in Maastricht, I heard that I was going to receive the scholarship. My joy knew no bounds! On the other hand, I had to make a very difficult decision, as I had to leave my husband, two children, five siblings and parents behind. Luckily, I received a lot of support from them, because they knew it was my dream to follow the master’s programme Global Health. We communicated through WhatsApp video calls on a daily basis.’’
‘‘I initially found it difficult navigating my way in Maastricht, especially because I was unable to attend the first classes and the pre-academic training with some introductions about Maastricht and what to expect from studying. So I had to find my way around and study hard at same time, which was quite challenging sometimes. However, I still found some time to move around and get to know the city. I particularly enjoyed the Redeemers International Church in Maastricht; it became a home away from home. Moreover, I liked cooking and sharing experiences with the other international students living in my apartment.’’
‘‘Visiting other European countries like Germany and Belgium (even on the same day!) made my stay in the Netherlands even more fun. The scholarship gave me the opportunity to see another part of the Western world and all of its lifestyle, food, culture… I truly enjoyed every moment I spent. The food ‘Kapsalon’ was what I liked most, in addition to using a bike as a means of transportation. Cycling is a fun way to stay in shape.’’
‘‘I am very proud that I manage to graduate on time, despite the corona crisis and the fact that I missed the introduction. Nevertheless, I absolutely enjoyed the experience of studying Global Health at Maastricht University. For instance, I loved the Problem-Based Learning method, as well as writing papers and carrying out projects with students from other partner schools. Furthermore, I chose the Innovations track during my electives, in which my team members and I developed a retractable syringe to solve the problem of needle-stick injuries amongst health workers. With this project, our team even won the corresponding Innovation Competition!’’
‘‘In brief, gaining a master’s degree in Global Health at Maastricht University has prepared me for working in the global world. Eventually, I hope to work in an area that solves health issues, especially in low- and middle-income countries. But first, I am thinking of going ahead with a PhD – thanks to my master’s, I feel more confident to peruse that.’’
About the Elizabeth Strouven Foundation
The scholarship of Chiagozie was offered by the Elizabeth Strouven Foundation, in collaboration with our fund and the Maastricht University Scholarship Office. The Elizabeth Strouven Foundation offers financial support to initiatives of organisations and institutions in Maastricht and surroundings. They focus on the themes Society, Arts & Culture and Nature & Landscape. They also provide (grant application) advice and bring together people and organisations. In this way, they contribute to a well-functioning and livable society. www.elisabethstrouvenfonds.nl.