MSD Animal Health and World Veterinary Association established an annual scholarship program for second and third year veterinary students in 4 global regions. The scholarships are awarded directly to the successful candidates scholarship and helps students to continue their studies by offering direct financial support of $5000. The review of applications considered financial need, academic achievement, engagement of the students with their future career path, leadership potential, and letters of support from their respective veterinary colleges. For the 2017/2018 application cycle, over 400 applications were received and only 41 veterinary students were selected globally. One of the grant winners is the Nigerian undergraduate and veterinary student from the University of Abuja – Abdulsalam Aminu Enesi.
We had a discussion with him on receiving this award and other topics. Read the interview here;
Can we meet you?
My name is Abdulsalam Aminu Enesi. I am a 300 level student of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Abuja. I completed my primary school from Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) Sheda Abuja and I completed my secondary school from Government Science Secondary School in Abuja in 2014.
You recently won an award from the World Veterinary Association, can you tell us more about this competition?
The WVA Veterinary Student Scholarship is a joint program with MSD Animal Health and it helps students to continue that studies by offering direct financial support. The scholarship program was open to second and third year veterinary students who, having completed their first year or two of study, are starting to develop and hone their veterinary interests.
Tell us how you got to know about the competition and submit your entry?
I am a student who regularly interact with lecturers, asking them about their past experiences of vet school, things they did during their time and things they regretted not doing. Because of this I was more exposed, and I got a lot of experience and knowledge from my lecturers. Whenever there is an opportunity that I am not aware of, my lecturers call me to inform me or they just send me a mail. I have a very functional mail, so I check my mail every single available time. I will also advice other students to have functional emails too.
So, I got to know about the scholarship from one of my lecturers who called me and sent me a mail containing everything about the requirements of the competition.
For you to be qualified for the competition, you have to be a 200 or a 300-level student, send your transcript or result for them to evaluate your academic performance and also write a 100-word essay on some specific topics they provided. I was a 200-level student with excellent first-class results. I also submitted support letters from the Dean and a Professor in my faculty.
Were you optimistic you were going to win the competition?
To an extent I was expecting it, because I sacrificed a lot. The scholarship competition came up during the holidays, so I had to come to school every day to get my support letters from my dean (who was always busy) and from other professors (who had traveled out of the country). I also had to follow up with the Examination Master to get my results, therefore, I spent a lot of time and expenses transporting myself from home to school.
How were you informed you won the competition and what was your reaction?
I was informed about the award through my mail, and guess what, if I hadn’t checked my mail within that week, my award would have been given to someone else. This is the importance of having a functional mail. I just finished writing a test that morning and just decided to check my mail as usual and then I saw the mail. I was so happy even though I was also expecting it. So, I just smiled and didn’t tell anyone until there was a press release and then everyone got to know about it.
What was the prize won and any benefit to your educational pursuit?
The prize was a monetary award of Five Thousand Dollars ($5000). It has definitely played a great role in my educational pursuit so far. I was able to buy the necessary text books I needed, I also bought a laptop for myself that I can now use for assignments and presentations, among other things.
So far, how has your experience been pursuing a DVM degree in the University of Abuja?
DVM in University of Abuja is pretty difficult, and I am sure it’s the same all over. It is also quite interesting and full of new experiences, because there are different stages of learning – The pre-clinical, the para-clinical and the clinical.
Do you have any extra-curricular involvement in the University? Tell us about it
I belong to different notable student organizations on campus where I hold principal positions. I also tutor my colleagues and juniors on their difficult courses. I volunteer in my community to orientate farmers on how to care for their animals and the importance of vaccination, I also volunteer at a vet clinic during my holidays. I have even attended several conferences and summits on leadership, entrepreneurship, and education.
What do you think should be improved on within the veterinary profession for future entrants?
One thing that needs to be improved on within the veterinary profession is the concept of One Health. I know it’s not something we can achieve as a profession on our own, but we have a great role to play in One Health especially in the control of zoonotic diseases. Another important thing is lack of proper awareness about the field of Veterinary Medicine in the country. I only knew about the course during my remedial studies, and I am pretty sure there are many students like me out there. We need to improve on our awareness, going to secondary schools to orientate students about our profession, including its benefits and importance to the society.
Advice for students and young Nigerians aspiring to study Veterinary Medicine?
My advice to those young Nigerians out there aspiring to study Veterinary Medicine is that they must be determined because at some stage in the training, you will feel discouraged and feel like quitting. But if you are determined and disciplined, you will definitely succeed. I have always been determined, prayerful and time conscious that is why I have been able to make it this far.
Any other comments and thoughts?
When I started vet school, we were 150 in the class, but today we are just 35 in the class. What I mean is that it is never going to be easy for you as a vet student. If you really want to be among the few that will survive the race, you have to be very serious, hard working, smart, have good time management and work with your class mates, because you can’t do it alone. One thing I always tell my colleagues and juniors since my secondary school days is that “Time waits for nobody” therefore spend your time wisely.