QS Leadership Scholarship: 2020 Winner | Top Universities

QS Leadership Scholarship: 2020 Winner

By Craig OCallaghan

Updated April 9, 2021 Updated April 9, 2021

The QS Leadership Scholarship awards US$10,000 to a student demonstrating strong leadership skills. We’re pleased to announce that this year’s winner is Camila Zarate. We caught up with Camila to learn more about her study plans and the difference this scholarship will make to her.

What are you planning to study, and why did you choose the university you’ve applied to?

I will be studying a master’s in Environmental Management (MEM) at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, focusing on the Environmental Economics and Policy specialization.  

I chose Duke University, and more specifically the Nicholas School of the Environment, because they offer an interdisciplinary program that combines environmental sciences with economics and policy. I believe that environmental issues need multidimensional solutions: while you need the science to develop cleaner and sustainable technologies, you also need the political will of decision-makers to promote policies accordingly.

Last but not least, you need to engage with the stakeholders that are going to be impacted by those policies. I think this program emphasizes interdisciplinarity while preparing students with a skill set that will allow them to support the transition between science, policy, and practice in the environmental field.

What do you hope to gain from your degree? How will it affect your career plans?

I have an engineering background, and I was looking for a program that would give me the tools to work in the environmental policy sector. By being part of the MEM program at Duke University, I will increase my understanding of existing constraints faced by policymakers and learn quantitative and qualitative methods to evaluate the feasibility of environmental management strategies.

The tools and transferable skills that I will gain from the program will shift my career in engineering to a career in environmental management. With that, I hope to participate in decision-making spheres, and contribute to the design and promotion of development models that include environmental and social perspectives, especially in developing countries like Colombia, where we have an incredible potential to develop sustainably, the need to implement environmental policies that include the perspective of local communities, and the responsibility to protect our unique ecosystems and biodiversity.

How did you find the scholarship application process? 

When I made the decision to attend graduate school in the United States, I knew that besides my application to the school, I needed to focus on multiple scholarship applications since education there is quite expensive, especially for international students. Therefore, my scholarship application process was pretty long and time-consuming, but fortunately, in the end it was very rewarding. In all, I applied to around five different sources of financial aid.

Regarding the QS scholarship application process, I found it very friendly to the applicants and very straightforward. It can be challenging to summarize everything you want to say in 500 words, so you have to make sure that the final product communicates who you are and what you’ve done.

What difference will this scholarship make to you? 

The QS scholarship made a huge difference in my decision to attend graduate school. If it wasn’t because I was awarded with the scholarship, I’m not sure that I’d have been able to pursue the master’s program. I’m very thankful for this opportunity and I’m sure I will make the most out of it!

What advice do you have for other prospective students who are applying for scholarships?

My advice to other applicants is to persevere. Finding scholarships is not always easy and some applications require a bit of work, however, the result of a successful application will make all those efforts worth your time.

Some application processes can also be an opportunity to put your educational and career goals into perspective. You will have to ask yourself what do you want to study and why, what program is the best fit for you, and how are you going to use it to achieve your goals. So, take that opportunity and make the most out of your applications.

My last advice for other candidates is to apply to as many scholarships as possible, always keeping in mind that every application is different. Get the paperwork ready ahead of time, read and modify your essays as many times as you need to until you’re confident with the result, and don’t forget to attend the QS events to be eligible for the QS scholarships!

This article was originally published in August 2020 . It was last updated in April 2021

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