To give a bit more insight into the programme and what it really means for the young people selected, we spoke to 2019 scholar, Daniel Babalola.
Mobeus: Hi Daniel, please could you tell us a bit about yourself.
Daniel: My name is Daniel Babalola. I was born in Ireland and moved over to the UK when I was 11. I am currently a first-year undergraduate studying Economics at the University of Cambridge.
Now you may be thinking that since I go to Cambridge I must come from a very privileged and rich family. However, this is not the case. I come from a single-parent family and it took me two years to realise that I was eligible for, and to apply for, the free school meals programme at secondary school. I am a child of Nigerian heritage and growing up in a Nigerian household comes with a number of teachings such as being appreciative and hardworking. My successful Cambridge application has come from nothing but being faithful to God, appreciative of the opportunities presented to me and working hard. The Mobeus scholarship was one of those opportunities presented to me and is accessible to anyone regardless of their background. I am really passionate about inspiring the next generation of young people by sharing my experiences. I enjoy playing competitive sports, football and playing the saxophone during my free time.
M: Tell us a little about why you applied for the scholarship
D: My main reasons for applying were to have full access and the ability to pursue my passions after graduating from university. I don’t want to find myself in a situation whereby I am struggling financially. My mother went through a lot to simply give birth to me in Ireland and it wasn’t until recently that I realised being born elsewhere could have completely changed the trajectory of my life. I was never fully aware of her hard work and sacrifice until she told me what her journey was like. This is part of the reason why I want to maximise my opportunities and use what I have to make my mother proud.
M: How did you feel when you were selected?
D: Surprised! I received a call from Chris (Mobeus Partner who designed and champions the programme) that evening and I wasn’t really expecting to be informed that my application was successful. I informed my family about the outcome and they were all delighted that I had been selected for the scholarship.
M: What has been the impact of being the Mobeus scholar so far?
D: To sum it all up I would say that Mobeus has helped me feel very secure. I can already see the time and commitment members of the Mobeus team are willing to put into my development and this makes me really hopeful and excited about what’s in store for the future. I would say I’ve also been exposed to a broader network of professionals willing to provide their advice and insight to help me.
M: What has been the best thing that has happened as a result of the scholarship so far?
D: The biggest one has to be getting into Cambridge. I only ever started thinking about Cambridge as a realistic university option in year 12 so making it through the application process was a great achievement for me. The Mobeus team played a role in my application success by organising mock interviews and this helped me get comfortable speaking about Economics alongside my thought process. I am really looking forward to starting the academic year at Cambridge, meeting like-minded people, and learning more about Economics.
M: What impact has COVID had?
D: The impact it has had on physical meetings has cancelled quite a few major events. A-level exams were cancelled alongside an internship I had planned for the summer. At first, I wasn’t happy about giving up exams as I saw them as an opportunity to show off my hard work. However, I quickly realised that I have a major role to play to ensure the safety of many lives and I’m glad exams have been cancelled for this reason.
Many individuals and organisations adjusted quickly to the situation by going virtual and a wealth of opportunities, programmes and events started to emerge. I was sceptical about whether these new virtual events could replicate the immersive experience of physical events. Despite this, I’ve been really impressed and I’m happy to say that the lockdown period has been really good and I feel very equipped for the next stage of my life.
M: If you could time travel, what would you tell yourself twelve months ago?
D: I would say enjoy the process and do what makes you happy. Additionally, try and invest your time in one skill or extracurricular activity that you’re passionate about. I understand that young people such as myself want to experience adulthood and grow up fast but with that comes more responsibility. Hence, I would simply advise young people to plan for the future but most importantly enjoy the moment.
M: What are you most looking forward to? What feels really exciting right now?
D: I am looking forward to starting university and future internship placements. Learning new things has always fascinated me and I believe university is a great environment to be in to facilitate learning. Likewise getting practical insight into the financial industry with internships is another form of learning I am looking forward to starting.