Jakub Aleksander Bartoszewski always pictured himself going to college in the UK to study engineering, which is why he calls his decision to attend NYU Abu Dhabi “the unexpected plot twist”.
After four challenging years at NYUAD, Jakub departed Abu Dhabi with an economics degree in hand, ready to take on new opportunities in his home country of Poland. And that’s where his story takes another impressive turn into the unexpected.
Jakub, Class of 2019, recently wrote on Facebook about his incredible journey from high school in the UK to university in the UAE, to becoming the first recipient of a significant corporate scholarship in Poland, which he’ll use to get his master’s in international relations at Texas A&M in the US.
Jakub’s Facebook post left us humbled, proud, and inspired. He was kind enough to let us share it with you.
Every student has a story. This is Jakub’s, unedited.
In 2013 I left Poland to do my high school studies at Cranleigh School, UK. This was thanks to the Stypendia British Alumni Society scholarship programme. My plan at that time was to become a chemical engineer and join one of the large companies of the oil & gas industry. Shell, BP and Chevron were the names I had in mind. An important part of this story is the fact that all of these companies are located in the so-called ‘West’. At that time, I saw it as the only destination for my future career and life. Objectively, I was truly a part of the great Polish emigration to the countries of the ‘Old’ EU, especially the UK, that had started in 2004, a mass of people who every year left their country in the search of opportunities, education and, simply, better life. So did I.
As I was completing my A-levels in all of the natural sciences and geology (yes, I actually collected rocks at some point), I was all set to join a Chemical & Nuclear Engineering course at the Imperial College of London. My second choice was the University of Manchester. My plan was simple: 4 years of studies ending with an engineering degree and then work. But then, the unexpected plot twist came – NYU Abu Dhabi.
In 2015 I received an offer to study at NYU Abu Dhabi. It included a scholarship as generous as you can imagine. Yet, I must admit that at that time I was very unconvinced about the idea. Going to study in a desert seemed like a very weird and exotic option & my teachers were concerned about the academic level; yet, on the other hand, I had very similar feelings in 2013 when I had to choose whether to leave behind my high school and friends in Poland to study in a foreign country in a language that I barely knew. My reasoning behind both decisions was simple – if you don’t give it a go, you will never see. So I gave it a go and took the offer.
The places I’ve been to, the people I’ve met and the opportunities I’ve taken – all of this was unparalleled and I am deeply grateful.
This was the right decision. 4 years spent at NYUAD were truly life-changing and nothing was the same after. The places I’ve been to, the people I’ve met and the opportunities I’ve taken – all of this was unparalleled and I am deeply grateful to my teachers, professors, friends, family and everyone else who supported me with their good word and advice during that time. On a side note, the academic level of this institution almost killed me on several occasions, so watch out.
Eventually, I graduated from NYUAD with a B.A. degree in Economics and it seems that I am going to continue my studies. Grupa LOTOS is a Polish oil & gas company based in Gdańsk, a city neighbouring with my hometown of Gdynia. LOTOS is the 3rd largest company in Poland and the 8th largest company in the whole of CEE region. This year LOTOS started a scholarship programme named after George H. W. Bush on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Polish independence and 30th anniversary of the fall of the Communist system. And I am going to be their first scholar.
From this August I will be studying in at The Bush School of Government & Public Service, a part of Texas A&M University in Texas. I will be pursuing a Master of International Affairs degree for the next 2 years. Then I will join the oil & gas industry as a part of LOTOS. Again, I’d like to thank everyone who supported me on my educational pathway that enabled me to attain achievements like this. This is not the end.
On a side note, I would like to remark upon one thing – I am really proud of the fact that as of 2019 Poland is a country that offers its young people such opportunities. I find it remarkable that such an opportunity came to me from literally right next to my hometown, a place which, for such a long time, I saw as scarce in opportunities. We still have a lot of work to be done, but things are changing. We already see ourselves as a part of the ‘West’ in cultural and political terms – this is the achievement of the generation of our parents. Now, we need to achieve the same in economic terms and this is a task left to our generation.