Background: During my time as a Geography and Resource Development and Dance Studies undergraduate at the University of Ghana, I had the privilege to volunteer with a student-based volunteer group to the Northern and Brong Ahafo Regions of Ghana as a basic schoolteacher. During this period, I developed the interest in helping people, especially children, people with disability and the aged. My love for social work grew while working with Child Rights International as a National Service Personnel, as we were constantly interacting with children, parents, teachers, farmers etc. in the rural communities. With the interest in social work, and the quest to have in-depth knowledge on social issues, I applied to the Centre for Social Policy Studies to pursue a Master’s degree in Social Policy Studies to be able to understand the social issues in the country and how policies are made to solve these issues.
My CSPS Experience: I have many memorable experiences from the year I spent at CSPS, but one event stands out and continues to put a smile on my face whenever I remember it. I opted for the Child Rights elective in my second year but joined class in the second week. On my first day of class, the lecturer had each student choose a presentation topic via ballot. Fate had me choose the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) as my presentation topic – a subject in which I was well-versed as it was a major training topic during my time at Child Rights International. I prepared my slides and the next meeting I delivered with ease. The feeling of that particular day hasn’t left me because I was in the position of a lecturer and it felt so good answering questions from my colleagues and being able to share my knowledge of the UNCRC with them.
Goals: After obtaining a degree in social policy, my perspective on social issues have changed. Enrolling at CSPS has helped me develop soft skills such as confidence, listening, authenticity and humility, which have helped me position myself to be interesting to others as well as draw others’ interest to me. Professionally, I am able to apply both practical and theoretical knowledge gained at CSPS to critically analyse and provide solutions to issues.
Networks: The networks built at CSPS have helped in my personal and career development. Networking with people during seminars enabled me uncover opportunities to connect with different types of mentors and advisors and develop my areas of expertise. The networks built at CSPS also provided an avenue to exchange ideas. You never can tell how much you know without listening to other people. Success in a career is largely attributed to the pool of information or ideas you have garnered in the past and this has been an important aspect of my development.
To prospective students: Be consistent in your resolve to be excellent! Take every chance to build personal relationships with peers and lecturers. Your lecturers are a valuable resource, not just in terms of the skills and industry expertise they provide, but for the connections they offer. Many lecturers are also industry experts with links to key thought leaders and organisations. Reach out and get to know them beyond the classroom. Nurture these connections and make sure not to lose contact with those you only see occasionally. Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask for help especially with regards to research. As long as you can maintain a strong relationship with lecturers and colleagues, asking for guidance is not only expected, but encouraged.