October 30, 2020, by International students
Nicole Usher is a Chevening scholar from Belize, studying MSc Economic Development and Policy Analysis.
My name is Nicole Usher, and I am an international student studying at the University of Nottingham from the country of Belize. Belize is a small nation located in Central America. It is a former British Colony and has retained its historical connection to the United Kingdom as a member of the Commonwealth. The official language of Belize is English.
After completing my undergraduate degree in Economics and Finance at the University of Quintana Roo in Mexico, I earned a position as an Economist at the Central Bank of Belize. My work mainly comprises conducting research on topical issues, forecasting key economic variables, preparing macroeconomic reports on Belize, and monitoring economic affairs to assist with the development of policy recommendations. My career prospects coupled with the desire for personal growth motivated me to apply for the UK’s Chevening Scholarship Scheme. I aspired to fortify my skills in economic development and policy, expand my professional network, and develop my leadership abilities to better serve my country.
My Chevening Experience
2020 has been a defining year on my journey of personal growth and development. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would be #ChosenforChevening, but what’s more, is that I am making history, joining the cohort of accomplished and courageous scholars undertaking their postgraduate studies in the midst of the most devastating global health crisis experienced in modern times. The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly altered our world and shown us how fragile life can be, with over 35 million cases and one million deaths reported since the start of the outbreak in December 2019. However, the pandemic has also allowed us to pause, reassess our priorities, and take strategic actions to preserve human life. I cannot recall a more iconic demonstration of compassion and resilience among humanity. We are indeed in this together and must continue to show that same level of cooperation and determination as we strive to find a vaccine and set forth on the path to recovery.
No one could have foreseen this event, but in all the chaos, I chose to persevere. Upon receiving my Final Award Letter from the Chevening Secretariat, I had a difficult decision to make: whether to travel to the United Kingdom to pursue my studies in person or commence my studies online remotely. I opted for the former, and to date, it has been one of the best decisions I ever made. Unavoidably, I faced countless challenges, including travel restrictions, issues relating to the visa application process, and of course having to self-isolate for 14 days when I arrived in the UK; but, I overcame every obstacle, learnt a great deal from my experiences, and emerged stronger.
Life in Nottingham
I am now settled in my new home for the next 11 months at the University of Nottingham, pursuing a Master of Science (MSc) degree in Economic Development and Policy Analysis. During the Chevening application process, I sought universities with research-intensive programs, as I am a strong believer of using evidence to support policy decisions. Leaders must have rationales for decision-making, and through conducting research, we gain a better understanding of current issues and can analyse the best way to address them. It did not take long for me to identify the University of Nottingham as my first choice. From an academic standpoint, the University is ranked eighth in the UK on a measure of research intensity and quality by the Research Excellence Framework (2014), and more than 97 percent of research produced at the University is recognized internationally. Moreover, the University boasts award-winning campuses in the UK, China, and Malaysia. On the social front, the University has one of the largest student populations in the UK and is considered a global institution, with more than a quarter of its students hailing from international countries. Finally, the MSc in Economic Development and Policy Analysis program was dynamic and covered a wide range of robust topics. I was confident it would best equip me with the skills and discipline to pursue my goals of improving socio-economic conditions in my home country, Belize.
In the short time that I have been here, I have met amazing people from different backgrounds and cultures, made memories that will last a lifetime, explored the wonderful city of Nottingham, and even found Robin Hood! Nottingham is a thriving student city with plenty to do and see; I am especially fond of the large selection of restaurants and pubs. While I continue to adjust to the weather, time difference, and blended educational mode of delivery this term, I believe I am exactly where I am supposed to be. I am thankful to have the opportunity to experience a new country and pursue my graduate degree at one of the most prestigious institutions in the UK, which would not have been possible without the generous support of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and partner organizations. To date, the UK Government has assisted over 50,000 young, global professionals to complete a graduate degree through the Chevening Scholarship Scheme. Awards are fully funded and offer a unique opportunity for scholars to grow in a professional and academic capacity, while experiencing life in a new country, expanding their network, and building lasting relationships.
As the deadline to apply for the 2021/2022 Chevening Award cohort approaches on 3 November 2020, I encourage future scholars to consider the University of Nottingham as their first choice. It is an excellent institution to pursue higher education and meet lifelong friends. I can attest that it has exceeded my expectations in every way. If you are in search of an extraordinary academic, social, and global experience, look no further than the University of Nottingham.
Apply through the Chevening website by 12pm UK time on Tuesday 3 November 2020.