USTL provides full scholarships to outstanding students from Timor-Leste for two to four years of study at high-quality undergraduate degree institutions in the United States. Scholarship awards include full tuition toward either a bachelor’s degree or associate degree, travel, living stipends, medical insurance in the U.S., and visa costs. USTL is a program of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), U.S. Department of State.



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My story of getting USTL scholarship

Posted on: 01 November 2019 BY: EAmaral

My journey to receiving the USTL scholarship in 2016-2017

I am very grateful for where I am right now. Studying in U.S. has provided me with a lot of experiences both academically and personally. So, I want to share the process of how I started applying for the USTL scholarship until the time I found out I was chosen to be one of the candidates in 2017.

I have always had a dream to study abroad growing up and had seen some Timorese students study abroad in various countries like the U.S., Philippines, Portugal, Indonesia, and others, which really inspired me. On my journey to find a scholarship, I tried to get involved in groups and activities that helped me practice my English at the same time, and I gained experiences related to environment and youth empowerment. Those experiences really helped me became aware of the environment and youth issues in my country.

While I was taking part in those activities, I was also studying nutrition and diet at the National University of Timor Leste (UNTL). It was challenging trying to manage my time with both school and my extracurricular activities, but I did my best and made sure I was always present. In between all my obligations, I also tried to apply for scholarships to various institutions in different countries. Through this process, I learned to write better essays. I also made it to the interview round for a couple of scholarships and did not make it, but I learned about the process and familiarized myself with the questions that are often asked in scholarship interviews.

When I first applied for the USTL scholarship, I only made it to first round of selection, but the next year I applied again and really paid attention on every single detail of the process. I wrote my essays early on, made sure I answered each question accurately, took my time to revise. After I learned that I passed the first round of the selection process, I was very happy and looking forward for the next phase, the TOEFL test. TOEFL stands for ‘Test of English as a Foreign Language,’ and it has listening, writing, and speaking components. It was not my first time taking the TOEFL test because in 2015 I was one of few people that got the opportunity from the English Access Program from the U.S. Embassy in Dili to take a TOEFL preparation course. This experience prepared me really well for when I took the TOEFL test for the USTL scholarship.

After knew I passed to the interview stage, I was very happy and nervous at the same time. My family, friends, and love ones were there to support me throughout the process and I was very determined and wanted to do my best to get this scholarship. Thus, I decided to prepare myself in bettering my interview skill. To do this, I practiced asking and answering some interview questions that are commonly asked in interviews. I did some research about questions that might be asked in such interviews, reflected on my previous interview experiences on what I did wrong. These actions really helped me prepare for my interview. At that time, I also had a friend that was in the same situation as me, we both advanced to the interview stage for the scholarship. We would meet frequently just to practice interviewing each other and it was really fun and effective. I feel like doing that really helped me got comfortable in my skin in the interview.

At the end of the process, I finally got this scholarship! I remember it was 6 something in the morning when I checked my email on my phone and read the email from USTL committee. I just cried and was very overwhelmed with excitement and happiness that my dream was finally coming true. I told my whole family, friends, and loved ones, and everyone was just so happy for me. I couldn’t thank God enough for this blessing. I also thanked those that support me throughout this process.

So, if you are passionate and determined about your dream then you must try to do your best and pursued it. It always going to take time, efforts, and patient but it is worth it.

Shout out to USTL scholarship for making my dream come true.