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Finding the path to achieve my biggest dream

Aggrey shares his inspiring story and how the Firoz and Najma Lalji Foundation Scholarship he was awarded is helping his ambition to support people in the global south out of poverty.

As a young boy, growing up in a small village in Mbarara, Western Uganda, the thought of coming to LSE was only a distant dream. Impoverished as we were, going to school barefooted and studying the whole day without food, that dream seemed unreachable to me. However, as much as my family situation scared me and, in many ways, limited the scope of my dreams, it was also a motivation. I just couldn’t bear the thought of seeing my children going through the same thing I had.

I knew that I needed an outstanding education if I were to beat the odds. I needed to get a good job and make money to help my people out of poverty – and this wasn’t going to be easy.

I worked hard at school, but had to interrupt my studies and sit home for a whole year because we couldn’t afford the school fees to take me to secondary school.

When I was able to return to school, I pushed myself to the limit. I studied hard, finished senior school and secured a government scholarship that took me to Makerere University, ranked as the best university in Uganda. 

After graduating I thought about continuing my studies but education at master’s level in Uganda is very tricky and expensive. At this stage many graduates just want to work, earn money and help their families - desperate to overcome the poverty that ravaged their childhood. 

Instead, I found a job and started working. However, I soon came to realise that my goal and my dreams were way bigger than what I had settled for. I wanted to pursue postgraduate studies and I challenged myself to imagine how much I could contribute to the world if I attained a postgraduate degree from a world-renowned institution. I was advised to only apply at less competitive universities to increase my chances of admission and winning scholarships, but I insisted on the best – which was LSE. 

Making the leap

When LSE made me an offer, I was over the moon. I knew that I didn’t have the money to attend, and the dream was still far from near, but I was excited nonetheless.  

By mid-August, I had lost all hopes of receiving a scholarship. Then, an email came announcing that I had been awarded the Firoz-Najma Lalji Foundation Scholarship. I froze when I read the message. I could barely believe it, so I kept on sending emails back to Financial Support Office at LSE asking them to confirm if I indeed had  the award. When they confirmed the scholarship, an image of a new future immediately formed in my mind. The actual possibility of me as a vibrant young African leader seated at the high table, with the world’s greatest minds and influencers, making decisions that would shape the world, and crafting policies that would help people out of poverty. 

I have worked as a humanitarian communicator in Uganda for the last five years, covering refugee stories. Now I want to understand more about the underlying drivers of migration and conflict so that I can provide deeper analysis to key powerbrokers and help shift narratives by bringing Africa and the global south to the forefront.

This is why I would like to enrol for a PhD immediately after my master’s programme so that I can pursue this kind of research. 

Mr Lalji’s own story is such an inspiration for me. It assures me that indeed everything is possible and I hope I will be able break barriers and help fight against the root causes of poverty.  

Aggrey Nyondwa

Msc Media, Communications and Development student and Firoz and Najma Lalji Foundation Scholar