About a year ago, I wrote my essay for the Nathoo Bursary and it was the first time I wrote an application for a bursary. It felt weird since the obvious reason for my application was that my parents could not afford to send me to Cambridge, but that would be everyone's reason for applying. So I thought about what could make my application special and tried to convey this in my essay. This was the prompt:
Please write a personal statement about your achievements, your aspirations for your studies in Cambridge and the reasons why you think that you should be considered for the Nathoo Bursary.
I remember staring at this rather broad prompt for hours, but I learned that you need to simply start writing. Your first draft may suck, but it is better to have a first draft you can improve than to have nothing. In all honesty, this is probably true for many things in life. In line with this thought, I am so proud of my friend Nico who just started his own website. He is an amazing photographer and he also took the title picture of this blog. I remember that starting my own website seemed scary and writing this essay was just as scary for me because so much was on the line for me. I decided to write the essay Here is what I wrote:
When thinking about our achievements, we often point to the things that were recorded on paper - our grades, the awards we won, and the different programs we joined and excelled in. But there is more to achievements than what is on paper. Achievements are moments where we exceed our own expectations of ourselves. They are moments of strength and success.
So what are the achievements I would put on my list? Next to the awards I won for academic excellence from seventh to tenth grade and the Harvard Book Award I received for outstanding contributions in and out of the classroom in twelfth grade, I would put passing sixth grade on my list. When I was in sixth grade, my teachers were worried that I might not pass the year. I had little support from home because my mother dealt with her illness (details omitted for privacy) and my parents were caught up in the war of the roses that was their divorce. But towards the end of sixth grade, one of my teachers in my bilingual class mentioned “human rights violations.” Since I did not understand the English word “violation,” I googled it when I got home and clicked on the image section to get an idea of what the word meant. I saw people lying in their own blood, people being pulled away from protests, and children looking at me through barbed wire. Finding out about the cruelty that I had been sheltered from until then made me want to become a human rights lawyer and it was that motivation that turned me from a student who almost did not pass the year into the best student of the class in just one year. After completing tenth grade in Germany, I was awarded a scholarship to study at an international boarding school in Hong Kong.
I have consistently engaged with the issue of human rights violations as the leader of my school’s Model United Nations Society and as a student in Hong Kong. Hong Kong’s proximity to the Chinese mainland and China’s growing influence in the city has made me aware of what it means to fear your freedoms being taken from you. This awareness motivated me to complete a Human Rights Intensive Studies Certificate at Stanford University in the summer of 2017. After finding out about the cruel treatment of asylum seekers in Malaysia, my friends and I teamed up and founded the project “I Am Not A Criminal” to raise awareness of the issue and deliver Bags of Hope to the asylum seekers. I will be contributing to the project as their Social Media Director while studying at Cambridge.
While at Cambridge, I hope to get an in-depth understanding of international human rights and humanitarian law in order to be able to one day represent the victims of human rights violations at the International Criminal Court. I also hope to learn more about how international law comes into being by joining Cambridge’s Model United Nations Society. And since every lawyer needs to see both sides to an argument, I also hope to join the Debate Team.
When I received an offer from St. John’s College, my mother promised me that she would make it possible for me to attend the college. But sending her daughter to study in the United Kingdom is not easy for her. (Details about my family's financial situation omitted for privacy) I hope that you will consider me for this bursary to relieve my family of a great financial burden and to help a future human rights lawyer make her first step towards making this world a little bit better.
Please note that I had to omit a few details to keep my private life private, but the text I shared still gives you a good idea of what I conveyed with my essay. I talked about this essay in my most recent video and I mentioned my teacher's impact on my improvement in school. There were many factors in my increase in grades and occasionally stupid me realised while writing this post that the essay I dedicated to my teacher's impact was an essay I wrote for another application (you can read it here). I dedicated this essay to another factor which heavily influenced me which was a discovery of a new goal. I had felt quite lost in sixth grade (I guess I was a deep thinker...) and learning about a new topic and realising that I wanted to work in it made me work towards something.
I hope that this helps you guys see how you could approach an application for a bursary or scholarship. If you guys have any questions about how I approached applications for financial aid, please feel free to message me.
If you have a minute, it would mean a lot to me if you would check out my friend Nico who took the picture of today's article: You can find his website here and you can look at his amazing friends on his Instagram!
Lots of Love,
P.S.: Have you seen my latest video? You can find it here: