QS World Merit MBA Community Scholarship: 2022 winner | TopMBA.com

QS World Merit MBA Community Scholarship: 2022 winner

By Aisha K

Updated August 23, 2022 Updated August 23, 2022

We’re pleased to announce the winner of the 2022 QS World Merit MBA Community Scholarship is Constantin Zavvos.  

The scholarship awards up to US$5,000 to two students starting their first year of an MBA or EMBA degree, and is designed for students who demonstrate exceptional levels of socially responsible leadership and an ability to motivate others.  

We caught up with Constantin to learn more about his MBA study plans and his experience on starting his own charity.  

What are you most excited to learn at Columbia Business School? 

I am excited about almost everything! Columbia Business School (CBS) offers so many appealing resources to MBAs and it will be a struggle to limit my selection. In line with my finance background and with my community interest, I want to develop my knowledge of purpose driven finance, social enterprise management, corporate finance and accounting.  

I am also excited about pursuing CBS competitions that will let me gain practical experience around impact investments and private acquisitions, but also learn, practice, and spur ideas about the opportunities of harmonising profit and purpose within communities.  

Additionally, I hope to pursue CBS’s international business treks and initiatives which will extend my international impact and enable me to explore different perspectives around community development and private investments. 

What was it like launching your own charitable association, and how did you convince volunteers to come onboard? 

When I first decided to get involved in my community, I wasn’t planning on launching anything; I was just looking to help the visibly marginalised people within my community. The idea of starting a charitable association snowballed as I witnessed (through a volunteering role as a teacher) the growing number of people facing isolation, and the lack of available support.  

I discovered that a major source of this support – volunteers – had become increasingly difficult to attract and retain and I wanted to make it my mission to fix this.  

In doing so, I started a charitable association called TeachForBetter that attracts and matches volunteers with community charities. The main challenge was to reduce existing bureaucratic hurdles in volunteer recruitment, and increase the flexibility and visibility of volunteer opportunities, making the overall volunteering experience, from searching to working, more attractive, efficient and successful for both parties.  

TeachForBetter now attracts prospective volunteers organically on our website and has partnerships with universities and organisations for recruitment.  

How has your upbringing and background influenced your personal mission of serving disadvantaged communities? 

Through my experiences travelling to different countries in Europe during my upbringing, for studies or more recently for work, I regularly was an outsider seeking a sense of belonging. I was, however, fortunate enough to have been supported by welcoming communities, which instilled a sense of confidence that enabled me to engage with people, and thereby achieve my goals.  

Recognising this, I’ve wanted to give back to the less fortunate communities. I realised that offering vulnerable or marginalised people a welcoming place to meet, collaborate and learn could provide them with the same opportunities for relationship-building and community participation that I experienced. 

What advice would you give to students who are looking to make a difference in their local community but are unsure of where to start? 

I would say that you don’t need to start big. You should start where you can, in a sector of interest, and see where it takes you. I was in a similar situation, in which I didn’t know how to get my foot into London’s community development scene, and for months I struggled to find a basic volunteering role.  

But, with continuous research, cold emailing and calling, I secured my first role in a community organisation.  

I would suggest reaching out to your local community organisations, charities and city hall. You will find that most of these organisations will need volunteers even if they haven’t advertised it. One new volunteer can make a huge difference to an organisation and can really impact many people’s lives.  

Going further, you will find that building a rapport with organisations will help you understand the dynamics and issues that they face. This knowledge can help you form new ideas and eventually new and impactful initiatives within the sector.   

What advice would you give to students who are thinking of applying for the Community Scholarship? 

If you’ve had an impact in your community or if you have an interest in making a positive change in your community, you should apply to the Community Scholarship. Not only does it feel great to be rewarded for your community involvement, but the overall application is a powerful tool for introspection.  

To students who need advice, I would say: tell your story, and explain your ‘why’. Don’t be scared to be honest and vulnerable in your essay – this will help the readers get a sense of who you are and where your passion comes from.  

I would also say that it’s important to plan your application and essay thoroughly; try to be detailed and logical when explaining your community and MBA goals. 

This article was originally published in August 2022 .

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Written by

Aisha is Content Editor for TopUniversities.com and TopMBA.com, creating and publishing a wide range of articles for an international student audience. A native Londoner, Aisha graduated from the London School of Economics with a degree in Philosophy and has previously worked in the civil service. 

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