We are celebrating the achievements of Malaria Consortium’s Dr Sylvia Meek scholars, who have benefited from a scholarship fund set up in 2016 to honour the memory of one of our co-founders. Since then, seven students have embarked on two-year masters programmes in entomology at one of three universities: Mahidol University in Bangkok, Thailand; the University of Nigeria, Nsukka; and the University of Pretoria, South Africa.
In our second look at the achievements of the scholars, Funmilayo Ogunkomaya tells us about her experience studying at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
The Dr Sylvia Meek scholarship in Entomology is an opportunity I will forever be grateful for. I found out about the scholarship just two weeks before the deadline on a website for scholarship opportunities. I knew it was going to be a very competitive process as there were only two scholarships available. The chosen applicants would get to study Entomology at the University of Nigeria on a fully funded scholarship made possible by Malaria Consortium. Despite feeling I had a low probability of being awarded the scholarship, I decided to apply.
At the time of applying, I had just completed my bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences with First Class Honours and I had developed a special interest in insects and the role they play in the transmission of deadly diseases like malaria and dengue fever. This made me see the scholarship as a great opportunity to develop my potential of being a global health researcher.
While developing my application, I was on national service in Nigeria working as a laboratory assistant. This provided me with some excellent experience before I learned my application for the scholarship had been successful in October 2017. From here I relocated to Enugu State, about 10 hours journey by road, and began preparation for the start of the programme at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
While studying, I was exposed to several course work modules and research techniques in entomology. I also enrolled in an online course at Stanford University in order to sharpen my scientific writing skills.
The day I presented my thesis was the highlight. I had discovered some plant species in Nigeria that can destroy the developmental stages of the Anopheles mosquito. This is a great achievement for me because some mosquito species have become resistant to commercially available insecticides.
My future plans of being an educator and a global health researcher commenced when I left Nsukka. I presently work as a teaching assistant and I plan to pursue a PhD in Medical Entomology outside Nigeria to carry out further research in other areas to help make Africa a malaria free continent.
This scholarship brought out some innate qualities in me that I never knew existed. Future Sylvia Meek scholars should give this opportunity their very best and never take any second for granted. Together, we can make the world a better place to live in.
Funmilayo Ongunkomaya is a recipient of Malaria Consortium’s Dr Sylvia Meek scholarship in Entomology.