Hay (left) presenting the Chevening scholarship certificate to Joan at the award presentation ceremony at the official British High Commissioner residence. – Photo: Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR: As the first journalist from Bernama to be awarded the prestigious Chevening Scholarship from the UK government, Joan Santani was overcome with emotion.

The 34-year-old, who will be pursuing a master’s degree in Journalism at Birkbeck, University of London, said she is truly honoured to be chosen, and also shared her arduous journey in the award’s application and selection process which stretched over eight months.

“Writing essays, prepping for interview, and sitting for IELTS examination were the major hurdles to overcome…(and) when the Chevening Secretariat started announcing the names of candidates who have been selected for the interview stage, I didn’t receive any email indicating whether I had been selected or otherwise.

“At this point, I was really nervous; I reached to a Chevening Alumni who suggested that I check with the British High Commission before a personnel at the high commission informed me that I was shortlisted for the interview,” Joan told Bernama when met after the Chevening Scholarship award presentation ceremony at the official residence of British High Commissioner Charles Hay, here on Thursday (Sept 3).

Joan, who is now placed at Bernama chairman’s office, said on June 23 – after a long wait – she received an email from the Chevening Secretariat informing her that she is awarded the scholarship.

“The first couple of words read, “We are delighted to inform you…”, and that was it,” said Joan with tears of joy.

She said the Chevening Scholarship is a gateway for her to enhance her knowledge, broaden her world view, and hone her leadership and social skills, which are essential to further enhance her career as a journalist.

“I believe by undertaking a master’s degree in Journalism at Birkbeck, University of London, will help equip me with the tools to examine local or international issues in an in-depth manner, by weighing various perspectives.

“And of course, it provides me with the opportunity to broaden my network and experience the rich cultural heritage of UK,” said the journalist, who has been with BERNAMA for almost eight years.

Joan said the scholarship will also enable her to get a first-hand look at how the British government is handling the Covid-19 pandemic, the efficiency and challenges faced by the country’s National Health Service, as well as issues closer to home, such as tourism between the UK and Malaysia.

She is among the 38 Malaysian Chevening scholars who will pursue studies in various fields at top universities in the UK. – Bernama