Please tell us a bit about yourself, your background etc?
I have a Bachelor’s degree in Environment and Community Development from Kenyatta University and a Post Graduate Diploma in Public Relations from the Chartered Institute of Public Relations.
Before coming to Leeds I had worked for about eight years in the Development sector, starting off in HIV/AIDS programming, then to grant-making which opened up opportunities for me to understand the development sector more intimately. I worked as a Development Communications specialist for about three years before I left to start my firm, Ngewa Afrika Ltd., where I consulted development agencies, charities and Government agencies on Public Affairs issues.
What made you want to apply to your course and to Leeds?
I toyed around the idea of studying an MPhil/PhD in Public Affairs, but I couldn’t decide what topic was interesting enough. After a series of terrorist attacks in Kenya, and noticing how the world seemed to be filled with news about terrorism, I was surprised how little expertise there was in managing communication during and after terrorist attacks, especially in Kenya. I started researching this subject and came across a series of universities which offer courses in Security and Terrorism studies. I wanted to gain a more in-depth understanding and hopefully land an advisory job for Government and Multi-National Security Agencies, especially in Africa. I liked Leeds because of the high quality politics department and I liked the city.
What is it that makes you passionate about your area of study?
Security expenditure, even in the least developed countries, accounts for the highest single budget line. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always translate into people being safer. I am most passionate about security issues that are compounded by or a direct result of incompetence of government personnel or structures. A lot of resources are wasted due to incompetence. I have only just made a first step into a direction I hope will lead me to confront this.
What do you think of your course so far – what aspects of the course have you enjoyed the most or are looking forward to the most?
The most enjoyable part has been learning Political Theory. I have engaged with theories in a way that completely opened my eyes to see the world differently. I have learnt how to look deeper and underneath the face of problems and headlines. Applying these theories to my dissection of problems is bound to be more impactful and help identify possible solutions.
What would you say about the learning facilities in the School and at the University in general?
I have loved the learning facilities and opportunities. I was able to pick a module in the Business School and have enjoyed this multi-disciplinary outlook. The library gives me access to many world leading Journals which makes it easier to find out new research and developments in your field.
I was recently able to attend a Security and Ethics Conference, which provided an opportunity to meet staff from different departments and speakers from universities and security agencies in the UK and Europe. Their work and research touches on various ethical components of security. This was an eye-opening experience which cost me nothing as the conference was held right here on campus.
What would you say about Leeds as a city?
Leeds is a very exciting city. It’s large enough that I am aware I am away from home in Kenya, but multi-cultural and warm enough that I have hardly been homesick. I enjoyed Ice skating in winter, going to the Cinema and shopping. I love going on long weekend walks at Meanwood Park.
What do you like to do outside of studying?
I love travelling and Art. I have had the opportunity to travel to other towns and cities in the UK whenever I didn’t have essays. I have visited the Dales of Skipton, the Media Museum in Bradford and the X-Factor Live tour in Manchester and had a load of fun! I am currently making a list of the Museums I have not visited yet, so that I cross them off the list during the summer break. I also love watching period drama. I hope to travel to Keighley where Jane Eyre was written.
What would you say to anyone thinking of applying to your course?
It is a brilliant choice. If you know what you’re looking for you will be right at home and if not, I have found the faculty here extremely resourceful.
What do you plan to do once you’ve finished your course?
I am actually seriously thinking of doing my PhD. I may take a year’s break to get my proposal and funding sorted, but I have realised that is the next choice for me.