Scholar in the spotlight - Persis Ramirez

01 Nov 2017
Programme Team - UK Chevening Secretariat

Persis won over her Chevening Scholarship interview panel when she spoke passionately about her concern for water-related issues -- and her priority of getting clean water to all parts of the Dominican population.

Read about why she chose to study an MSc in Water, Sanitation and Health Engineering at the University of Leeds and how she enjoys the UK's reading culture in our interview with her.


Chevening: Hi Persis, how are you settling into life in the UK?

Persis: Little after I arrived, I realised that sunglasses were the least useful item I packed… Weather has definitely been the most challenging part of the adaptation process for this Caribbean girl.

Despite this very common complaint, the settling process has been surprisingly smooth, not only because of the very strong support system created by relatives, friends and all the services and facilities provided in the University of Leeds, but also because of the platform Chevening provides to its scholars. I suddenly have a whole team that looks after my wellbeing and overall progress plus hundreds of current scholars who can relate to my journey.

What are you looking forward to about the year ahead?

This year will for sure define my academic and professional development. I’m excited about creating strong and lasting connections in my field. I’m also yearning to explore the UK as vastly as possible within my time here.

Tell us about what you were doing in your country before you came to the UK?

My background as a civil engineer allowed me to engage in water management firstly during my undergraduate dissertation, based on groundwater quality, and then as an intern for the Surface Water Division in the Institute of Natural Resources of my home country.

I eventually shifted my interest from hydrology to WASH (water sanitation and heath), working as a volunteer for many community projects in which the connection between communicable diseases and lack of access to water and sanitation was evident.

Why is the course that you are studying in the UK important to you?

Water management is an indicator of international development and economic growth. It is also intrinsically linked with public health in both ends of the spectrum, being a means of spreading disease or a tool to prevent it.

A master’s in water sanitation and health grants me the chance of working on a meaningful and globally relevant field. Following this path, I will invest my competences in managing resources in order to improve the life quality of communities, while contributing to achieving the water-related aspects of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

How did you find out about Chevening and why did you apply?

The Chevening Scholarship is very prestigious and well-advertised in the Dominican Republic. I attended a British universities fair in 2015 where I acquainted myself with the eligibility criteria and overall approach of the scholarship programme itself.

After a year of further research and proper assessment of my professional aspirations I decided to apply. I feel the UK is the perfect place to study, not only because of its first-class education system, but also exposure to diversity and multicultural experiences.

What are you hobbies or interests outside of studying and working?

One of my biggest passions is reading - did I mention how thrilled I am about living in a place with such a strong reading culture? I usually find myself roaming around charity shops looking for used books during the weekends. I absolutely love the fact that you can find bookshelves randomly placed in public spaces, which strongly encourage you to grab one.