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5 Reasons Why I’m Glad I Applied (3 Times!) to the Laureate Global Fellowship

Wiclif Otieno | March 16, 2015

Driven by his own personal experience, Wiclif founded Kito International to prepare Kenyan street youth, ages 17 to 24, for a better life. Its two-month immersion program includes training in life skills, financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and basic IT, along with professional development.

As a young social entrepreneur, being selected as a Laureate Global Fellow was one of my dreams. After applying twice, I finally managed to get selected on my third try— just a year before I turned 30 and would no longer be eligible. It was a dream come true! All summer I waited with anticipation and apprehension for the October leadership training and retreat. After long hours of flying through different time zones, I finally landed in Lima, Peru, not sure what to expect from the program and nineteen other change makers from across seventeen different countries.

As the week came to a close, I knew this fellowship would be a life-changing experience. There are many reasons why I would encourage young social entrepreneurs to apply to become Laureate Global Fellows, but here are five that stand out the most:

  1. You will participate in a week-long executive training and leadership retreat:  During this retreat I gained new insight on how the challenges that I seek to address exist within a system, and I gained tools to disrupt that system and drive change more efficiently.
  2. You will expand your networks in ways that benefit your venture: Through the fellowship, I not only made friends, but gained the support of nineteen other pioneering youth. For example, with the help of 2014 fellow Peggy Mativo who leads PACE, an education initiative in Kenya, I secured a full scholarship for one of my street youth program graduates to join high school.
  3. You will receive personalized coaching and support: Each fellow is matched with an IYF staff member for a yearlong coaching experience. As part of that experience, my coach connected me to others who had unique skills and knowledge to benefit my venture. I was introduced to Naomi Chepchumba, a 2013 fellow who is a phenomenal photographer. She visited KITO, and for the first time our venture had professional photos taken—a key instrument for communicating our work. That is something that we would not have had without the Fellowship.
  4. You will be supported in your leadership growth through unique opportunities: YouthActionNet nominated me to attend the prestigious Skoll World Forum in Oxford, UK. I was pleasantly surprised by this nomination, and am excited that I will be joining a thousand other delegates from across the world in April and will be speaking at the forum in one of the plenary sessions. I never knew that applying to the Laureate Global Fellowship would lead me here!
  5. You will connect with peers from across the world: YouthActionNet’s alumni community is 1,100 strong—not only do I have support from the nineteen fellows from my class, I have an entire community I can reach out to for help with my venture or personal leadership challenges.

The Laureate Global Fellowship has been the best experience in my life as a young social entrepreneur.  I hope that as many young people as possible will have the opportunity to be part of this amazing experience. And, if you’ve applied before, remember my story! I may have applied three times before I was finally selected, but it was more than worth it in the end.

The 2015 Laureate Global Fellowship application is now open through March 25th. If you are a young person driving change with at least one year of impact, apply today!