The Transformative Power of Scholarship
On Tuesday 9th October, the Canon Collins Alumni Network in Zimbabwe organised a highly successful evening of information sharing on scholarship opportunities for Zimbabweans in Harare. There are too many highlights to share in this piece, but we particularly wanted to share an extract from the Keynote speaker, Mr Willie Ganda’s incredibly inspiring speech. For the full speech, please click on this link here.
“It is a great honour to have been asked to give a keynote address at this important occasion by Canon Collins Southern Africa on the theme “The Transformative Power of Scholarship”. I am indeed humbled to be standing before you as a product of Canon Collins and having experienced in my own way the transformative power of scholarship.
I am indeed gratified to be among the close to 3,000 people to have been supported to study at universities in the UK and South Africa since its inception in 1981. I studied for an MBA at Edinburgh Business School at Heriot-Watt University under the Canon Collins Scholarship and graduated in 2013. Studying for the MBA was one of the most transforming experiences of my life and laid the foundation for my current career and PhD studies.
How Can Scholarship Transform Individuals?
One of the most difficult personal development questions people face is where and what to study? After overcoming this hurdle, the single and greatest threat to fulfilling one’s dream is how to finance their studies. In the absence of viable and sustainable funding options scholarships largely remain the only way one can fulfil their dreams. The most important part, however, is not the degree certificate that one gets after the end of their gruelling programme, rather it is the world class experience of interacting with other cultures and the cross-pollination of ideas, values and practices. You are not only transformed intellectually but become part of a large global network of intellectuals in your domain of influence.
Global education and experience open up a whole world of opportunities for one to fulfil their dream. You become more outward looking and perceive and analyse things from a global perspective. The first and simple thing that scholarship does to you is that it increases your confidence. When I went to interviews for my current position, I was the youngest and least experienced among a pool of other probably more experienced individuals, but confidence and intellectual clarity on what is needed for the job carried the day. My own experience is that scholarship has much more impact when you come back and use your skills where they are required most. Light shines most where it’s darker.
The argument by some has always been education is education, and hence international education is over glorified. Let me submit to you that education is more than textbook knowledge which one can, in any case, get at the click their phone button today courtesy of technology. Education is the total package of experiences that shape our thought patterns, values, principles and attitudes. During my study in the UK, one of the most transforming experiences was my approach to materialism and what really matters in life.
Professionally wise, the MBA transformed me into a close to complete package and has availed me the opportunity to sit on a number of boards where my professional knowledge has been invaluable. Without the MBA which I studied courtesy of the scholarship from Canon Collins, I would have never had the opportunity to fulfil my dream of studying for a PhD in Economics with a top University in the world. The experience of being in a country where one can see and experience transformation in practice in a very different cultural and political context has been invaluable and shows the power of scholarship in opening up doors that will lead to many other opportunities.
The world today is becoming more and more competitive and is increasingly demanding globally competitive human capital to solve local challenges. The decision to further one’s studies more so in the international domain is one of the most important decisions any young person can make.
I am indeed heartened by the interest that potential future scholars here today and many others around the country have shown in studying abroad under the Canon Collins Southern Africa Scholarship programme. Should you succeed to be among the 100 or so scholars that Canon Collins support annually you should always remember why this scholarship was started in the first place, that is, to develop leaders that will influence development in their communities. It is not about you, but about others. Your country needs you and your community needs you. I wish you all the best of success as you endeavour to join this great family called Canon Collins.
Ndatenda, Siyabonga, I Thank You.