My Chevening Scholarship Journey

22 October 2019

Full-time MBA participant, Cebo Mayekiso, talks about his experience of applying for and being awarded the Chevening scholarship.

52,000 applications worldwide, 1,750 successful scholars, 500 from Africa, 48 from South Africa - the maths is easy, only 3% of all applicants received the prestigious Chevening award for 2019!

I feel incredibly privileged and affirmed in my purpose to be part of this unique and talented cohort as it represents the future leaders and Change Makers that will propel their countries respective economies.

The Chevening award has seen me fulfil a lifelong ambition of doing an MBA at a top business school in the UK – and Warwick Business School (WBS) is certainly that! The journey, as you can imagine is a long and challenging one, riddled with emotional and mental hurdles – but what do they say about the road less travelled again?

My Chevening journey started in July 2018 when I went to one of the Information sessions hosted in Johannesburg. I could tell from the speakers and alumni that this particular scholarship was both highly regarded and life altering – I knew then I wanted to be part of those illustrious 50,000 who get to call themselves Cheveners!

The application process itself is broken down into four parts; the essays and application, the short listing, the interview and finally the outcome, over a gruelling 10-month period. I embarked on my journey immediately after the event, engaging with current and past students to gain as many insights as possible. I must say that everyone I spoke to was extremely forthcoming, which truly exemplifies what Chevening is all about.

My essays commenced in October and I found that they truly require a great deal of self-introspection, thought and dedication. I found myself constantly refining and perfecting my narrative so that it truly captured the essence of my message and stood out from the rest. I knew I was going up against some of the world’s best, so I spent a considerable amount of time fine-tuning my essays.

In January/February, my anxiety and excitement reached fever pitch as the first batch of outcome emails start trickling in. First, the longlisting email. You go through some mixed feelings at this point - the excitement of making it this far but still realising the long journey ahead of you.

A month later the ‘shortlisted for an interview’ email arrives – quite a remarkable feat, as this represents a great deal of validation, so of course you celebrate (make sure you celebrate the small wins, they make you feel alive and re-energise you for the last legs of the process). My interview preparations were robust – no way was a lack of preparation going to be the reason I didn’t get this scholarship. I organised mock interviews, used my friends as test subjects and had countless phone calls with alumni.

Then that life-changing email arrived on June 6, 2019 at exactly 16:58. “Dear Cebo… we are delighted…” I remember vividly being in my car, then parking on the side of the road and just breaking down into tears. Many emotions consume you in that moment. Excitement, joy, disbelief, relief. Your dreams have come true and you can finally exhale! So of course, you celebrate – and celebrate I did!

The Chevening journey is truly a remarkable one that I will lean on as a source of motivation during those challenging times on my MBA journey. The range of emotions you navigate through is character building, and overcoming that imposter syndrome and betting on yourself is truly liberating and highly rewarding. The taste of victory couldn’t be sweeter, and I look forward to displaying the Chevening values during my time at WBS.

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