My name is Jackson Makanga, a commonwealth shared scholar from Uganda and I am currently studying the Advanced Mechanical Engineering MSc at Cranfield. I am passionate about industrial materials and how they are processed. I graduated from Makerere University in 2013 and joined luwero industries where I was working as a production engineer.

When I applied for the commonwealth shared scholarship in April last year, I didn’t know I would get it. I had been applying for a scholarship for postgraduate study for three years and all had been unsuccessful but I didn’t give up! After applying for several years and not being fruitful, I predicted it would be the usual story when I received an email from the commonwealth scholarship commission. I remember reading the email about three times and checking the sender address to make sure it was official. The excitement was too much for me to contain! I remember straightaway informed my work colleague who I was seated with at the time. I immediately accepted the offer to study at my best university, Cranfield University. When I informed my family they were over the moon. Everything happened so fast after I accepted the offer. I feel I didn’t have time to get fully excited and dream about my time at Cranfield and the UK as a whole because before I knew it I was applying for ATAS, accommodation, visa, medical checks and forms.

When I received the paperwork for my scholarship offer, I finally believed the dream was real. Getting a commonwealth scholarship, more so at Cranfield University, was my accomplishment of the year. I started seeing my dreams and vision coming true through this scholarship. I knew then that I was going to make a difference in my country, family and community.

On the 21st of September, my family held a farewell dinner to congratulate me on this enormous opportunity and bid me farewell. I prepared myself for my journey to Cranfield.

On the 25th of September, I arrived in the UK. I was warmly received by Cranfield University straight from the airport as they had arranged transport to collect me and other colleagues from Heathrow Airport. Cranfield University was even more impressive than I had imagined. As we arrived, it was unimaginable that a University could have an airport, let alone a hotel and a living environment for students.

As I strolled through the University on the following day heading for registration I was given a very warm welcome by the registering staff and received a full detailed orientation. The University gave the students a tour to the nearby towns to get familiar with them and know where supplies can be got. Cranfield is an multicultural University with students from different countries and continents. Even though I was so far from home, Cranfield became my home. The friendliness and beauty of the University made me feel so welcome.

By the end of my first week at Cranfield, I felt more honoured for having achieved this opportunity. The Advanced Mechanical Engineering MSc is action packed and so far I have already learnt how planning, designing and analysing are all essential in mechanical engineering. My safety awareness in engineering works has already greatly improved through the module of Risk and Reliability.

This is indeed a once in the lifetime opportunity and studying in the UK has given me a different perception of life and a chance to achieve my dream.

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