The Chevening Programme in Bolivia

25 Sep, 2019 | BX Team

Politics and Culture

Photos: Sergio Suárez 

The UK’s flagship scholarship for future leaders 

The UK government’s Chevening international awards programme aims to develop global leaders. The scholarship is fully funded, covering flights, accommodation and course fees, allowing recipients to live in the United Kingdom for a year while pursuing a master’s degree at a prestigious university. The BX team talked with the United Kingdom’s ambassador to Bolivia, Jeff Glekin, and also reached out to past and current Cheveners to talk about their experiences and expectations. 

According to Glekin, ‘The goal of the scholarship is to identify and nurture future leaders, to help strengthen the relationship between the UK and Bolivia and to create a network of scholars both in Bolivia and around the world who can support one another in their goals.’ 

The programme started in Bolivia in 1998 and has benefited 148 scholars so far. It is open to any citizen of an eligible country, who must commit to returning to their country of citizenship for a minimum of two years after the award has ended, thus contributing to that country’s future growth and development. For Glekin, leadership comes in all shapes and forms and can be found anywhere in Bolivia. The administrators of the Chevening programme are not looking for people with any specific backgrounds; instead, they look for people who have shown real leadership potential, encouraging applicants from as diverse backgrounds as possible.

This year the UK Embassy is launching a mentoring programme to assist applicants to the Chevening programme. ‘Those who are most successful are people who can articulate most clearly what they want to achieve for themselves and for their country, and those are the people who can make an impact on the long term,’ Glekin said.


Vania Rodriguez Saavedra


Fashion Designer

MSc Applied Psychology in Fashion

University of the Arts London



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‘I’m really excited to have won the scholarship because I’m the first person in a creative field that received the scholarship in Bolivia…. I found one master’s programme that was ideal for me because I’m starting to reshape the way the fashion industry is working in Bolivia, and the master’s aims directly at that. I think this is going to help me grow in my area of expertise,’ Rodriguez said.

She also had some advice for applicants: ‘For the creative people who want to apply, consider that they have to be leaders in their industry. They also need to prove how their particular expertise can help the development of the nation; it actually has to help the economy in some way.’


Jose Manuel Rioja Ortega


Industrial Engineer

MSc Investment, Banking & Finance

University of Glasgow



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‘I would really like to bring back financial technology [to Bolivia],’ Rioja said. ‘And I think it will be a great experience with a lot of competition. Because it is the people who surround you that make you, so I think that if you compete with people performing at a higher level you will also be able to perform that way.’

‘Your own definition of success is going to help you a lot if you are applying to the scholarship or to any job,’ he added. ‘I follow [revered US NCAA basketball coach] John Wooden’s success definition that goes like this: “Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.” That’s what success is for me, and this is how you are going to be happy, because you don’t measure yourself only by money or by assets, but by true happiness.’


Karina Breyzka Guzmán Miranda


Commercial Engineer

MSc International Public Policy

Queen Mary University of London



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‘I learned quite a lot from theatre plays,’ Guzmán said. ‘They give you a taste of culture on a deeper level. In general I really liked London because people help each other, you see many examples of kindness from random people. The experience also expanded completely how I understand things and my priorities as well because sometimes we take for granted some amazing things that we enjoy at home.’

Guzmán had some advice for people interested in the programme: ‘Don’t be afraid to apply, you have to be stubborn and persistent, and don’t let it go, just hold on tight until you finish the process and do the best you can. Be concise on what you want to do. It took me almost a whole year to prepare my application, not because it is difficult but because of the bureaucracy involved.’

‘We need to get this wonderful opportunity to everybody, to everyone in the country, because we have a lot of talent,’ she added. ‘We just need to be able to expand it, and a mission as Cheveners is to try to spread the word to everybody.’


Paola Andrea Escobari Vargas


Electronic Engineer

MSc Radio Frequency and Microwave Engineering

University of Surrey



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‘In the last few years, India’s growth in the aerospace sector has been massive, and when I was interviewed for the Chevening I said that here in Bolivia we have the same opportunities as India because we have the human resources to make it,’ Escobari said. ‘The only thing that we need to do is to train people outside [of Bolivia] to become professionals so they can come back to the country to do it.’


Edwin Salcedo Aliaga


Systems Engineer

MScEng Advanced Software Engineering 

University of Sheffield



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‘I really enjoyed participating in hackathons, which are 24-hour or 48-hour-long competitions where you have to develop a prototype of your idea,’ Salcedo said. ‘I participated in four or five events outside of [Sheffield], and it was really nice to participate because I met people from different backgrounds.’


This year’s application deadline for the Chevening programme is 5 November. Glekin recommends that applicants spend time thinking about why they might want to apply, what areas they may have to improve in, whether it’s the English language or preparing their example of leadership, so that when they do apply they have a clear and articulate application that really stands out.

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