Fidelis Bonaventure is pleased to announce he was selected for the prestigious Atlas Corps Fellowship. He will be serving with the Obama Foundation in Washington DC, and we are pleased to share his story, a story which starts with…
This so far is the peak of my career as a social sector leader. I consider this a rare privilege, but it didn’t come as luck!
In 2015, I applied for couple of international leadership programs including the Mandela Washington Fellowship (MWF). This journey officially launched me into the world of “international exchange programs”. Like most passionate young social workers, I fancied the thought of having a global experience on development, while also receiving the requisite exposure to enhance my work around positive youth development, employability and inclusion. So I strongly considered applying for #MWF since it was as a good fit.
I didn’t get in.
I re-applied in 2016. Received another rejection mail!
Something significant occurred in 2017 – I came across the Atlas Corp Fellowship – a top U.S professional development program for the world’s best social change leaders. It described the exact spec of leadership opportunity I looked forward to.
After the reading the requirements and the selection rate (less than 2%), I knew it was pretty competitive. I thought to myself: “if I didn’t get in for MWF, what’s my chance of being selected for Atlas Corps?”. But as predicted, I wasn’t successful.
Meanwhile, I re-applied to MWF, got to the Semifinals – and again, didn’t make it to the finals.
I had also received a rejection mails from a couple of other programs.
At this point,
I had become accustomed the rejection mails. I simply wouldn’t give up. It was basically a goal for me, to receive as much as rejections as I could
The ” dogged” me wouldn’t take no for an answer! So, I redoubled my efforts, clarfied my goal, did more work, and accelerated the impact of my projects.
I applied for Atlas Corps Fellowship again in 2018, and in less than 3 months I got an offer!
It was indeed an accomplishment for me. These experience taught me so profound lessons:
Attitude is (Almost) Everything- I learnt that a “No” isn’t a death sentence. It just could mean” Not-Yet”. Upon reflection, I realize the so-called rejection mails were a true test of my passion for the work – my lemonades. Indeed, If we really want to test our passion for the work, we should be ready to receive enough “Not-yets”. Herein lies a positive attitude.
Failing Forward: This may sound unconventional, but sometimes it’s OK to fail – to fail forward. Yes! Failure is a good thing! One learns how to make mistakes courageously, grow in knowledge and mastery, un-learn the irrelevancies of life and relearn new ways of thinking/doing. I think educational institutions should teach students how to “fail forward”, for we never really fail; we only learn.
God is A Reality For Me: This is a personal testimony based on a personal experience -there is a God who orders our steps according to His plan. Early this year, I asked God just for two things: Clarity of Purpose and Wisdom. I got answers: Like a gentle Father, i felt God wanted me to focus on the most important things in life; and not overly distracted by the success of others.
I shared this with a couple of friends, and funny how they told me how it has turned out for them, namely; that God is a partner, a friend and loving Father, who is pleased when you ask for the things He wants and loves. When done, God seems to opens one’s eyes to the opportunities that are in line with our life’s mission including jobs, strong networks, professional development programs, funding, and so on.
In my case, I wrote about 10 essays for the Atlas Corps fellowship; ‘had about 6 interviews back-to-back both with Atlas Corps and my host organization; designed a leadership innovation program as part of the assessment process; ‘got a rejection mail – Yes I did- and finally got an acceptance mail.
Today, I will be serving at the Obama Foundation as a change lead – IT CAN ONLY BE GOD!
Persistence and Authenticity of Motive is key – Do the work irrespective of the rewards. Things will fall in place and take shape at the RIGHT TIME. Don’t quit. Keep doing the work (silently), Keep failing, keep learning, keep growing. Like a purified gold, you will eventually succeed.
I am grateful for this opportunity to learn, grow and serve in the American society as an Atlas Corps Fellow, Class 35.
Cheers to more impactful feats ahead.