‘Congratulations, you have been offered a place…’ is a sentence that evokes a great sense of joy, pride and relief. However, it is only the beginning, as there are so many external factors which can influence a person’s journey into postgraduate study. For me, and I think a lot of other prospective and/or current students can agree, finance can be a major hindrance. Still, the reasons for deciding to continue education into masters, and sometimes even to PhD level, are varied and are often linked to both personal and professional goals. And are frequently not linked to financial status. In my case, coming from South Africa, I wanted to gain a UK-perspective in my field, thus increasing my competitiveness in the job market in this very different landscape compared to where I came from. Even though I hold dual citizenship with South Africa and Britain, I have never lived in the country, only visiting a few weeks here and there, and it was very difficult for me to make a case for myself to potential employees. Particularly within the field of forensics where there are added security clearance issues. I cannot even remember how many jobs I applied for over the course of a year, all ending with the phrase ‘we regret to inform you…’. Rejection, no matter how nicely put, always hurts, and I missed the comfort of my South African home immensely.

I reached a point where I needed to evaluate where I wanted to be, and what was the best way for me to get there. And a chance meeting with an academic from Cranfield Forensic Institute led to my decision to pursue another postgraduate degree. I remember clearly when I put in my initial application – I had just received another rejection letter. Of course, I let myself have my moment of sorrow (perhaps a bit more than a moment), but shortly after, I opened up Cranfield University’s website, read about all the forensic programmes on offer, and after my research, I put my application within one evening. I received my acceptance three days later – Cranfield’s admissions teams were amazing and on the ball! But suddenly the elation was replaced with worry over finances. Even though I had been granted home fees (due to my dual-citizenship) I had no idea how I was going to fund the year of study. That was until I saw that Cranfield Forensic Institute was offering full-tuition scholarships for home students. I immediately started on the application. The biggest component was the 2500-word essay I had to write to motivate why they should choose me. And why should they have? I was still relatively new to the UK, and I held a postgraduate degree already. But I decided just to be honest and be myself. Laying down my path into forensics, I even started the essay with, ‘I wish to take you on a journey along the path I have taken in my education, work experience, and my professional career up until this point, as I believe this will give you a clear picture of not only who I am as an individual personally and academically, but also why doing this masters at Cranfield University is very important to me.’ – and I did exactly that.

Maybe a month or so later, I received the email ‘We would like to inform you that you have been shortlisted for the CFI scholarship’ – immediate excitement, and then nerves. If anyone has had to do an interview, it can be a scary experience. But the two staff members from CFI who interviewed me put me at ease and it was more like a conversation. Also, an indication of the staff character at Cranfield. I received my congratulatory email that I had been awarded the scholarship a few weeks later, and my journey at Cranfield started. The moral of the story is that even though there may be times when you put yourself out there and be met with rejection, keep on doing because it just takes one ‘congratulations you have been…’ to change things. So, prospective students, those who are determined to do postgraduate study, but need the funding, just keep working hard and look for those opportunities, and from my own experience, with some patience, it will happen. Cranfield University’s website also has great resources for potential funding sources, which is updated regularly, and I share this link with prospective students frequently in my role as a student ambassador. It is also great that Cranfield Forensic Institute is still committed to providing funding to its prospective students, as it has just launched the ‘Cranfield Forensic Institute Excellence Scholarship 2021’, and this time it is for international students.

So, I would like to end this with wishing the best luck to those applying for the different scholarships on offer and remember – be yourself.

For more information on the Cranfield Forensic Institute Excellence Scholarship 2021 and to apply click here.

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