I had been working in the not-for-profit sector and the healthcare sector at the provincial and regional level for a while, and while I enjoyed the work, I was looking to move to either the national level or alternatively, work for an international NGO.
I chose SOAS because of its international reputation and because it offered the programme via distance education. The Global Diplomacy programme offered some of the same courses that were offered by in-school programmes, which assured me of its quality. Also I was working full-time and taking a year’s break from work wasn’t feasible at this time in my career. SOAS offered a great programme, on par with other global affairs programmes, and with the convenience of distance education. It was an easy choice.
It was difficult, but I can say that it was a valuable learning experience. Having to coordinate my work and school commitments along with everyday life was a trying but rewarding experience. I have become much more organised and I surprised myself with how much I was able to accomplish through better time management.
I thoroughly enjoyed my learning experience. The readings were broad and deepened my understanding of the field and the assignments were challenging. The access to the library was wonderful (I will miss it!). I was able to choose my own courses to tailor my learning to my career objectives – working for an international NGO.
The exchange with the other students was invaluable. I enjoyed reading the responses of my fellow students on the forum. The sheer breadth of experience of the students in the course was amazing. We had working diplomats, journalists, and other experts in the field of international relations and development. They brought their real world, lived experiences from the field into the discussion and enriched the learning and understanding of the course material for us all.
The programme was truly global, with students from around the world all with diverse working experiences. We were able to connect on the forum and outside of the programme through other social media platforms. Online learning and connecting globally is becoming the norm and SOAS is definitely embracing this new way of learning. The programme was well-organised, the technical quality of the online forums was great, and it was easy to navigate.
The professors were wonderful. They were not only knowledgeable about the field, insightful with their comments, engaging in the forums, but also very approachable. Their turnaround time for responding to emails needs to be applauded considering the time differences they encountered.
I also had the chance to visit SOAS last May and attend one of the seminars. I was able to meet with my professor (Simon Rofe) and with other students who attended in person. I am happy to report that while we experienced SOAS differently, I felt just as connected and as part of the school as the students who attend in person.
I have recently taken on a higher level position within my company. While it is still at the regional level it has afforded me the opportunity to network with international NGOs, many of which have offices in Toronto. I am excited about my future prospects. I have stayed connected with several of my fellow students and their insight into the field has helped my understanding of where I want to go next and how to get there. The programme and my fellow students have helped me see doors that I couldn’t see before, and my degree will no doubt help to open them.
I have shared my SOAS experience with my new colleagues. They have expressed interest in the programme, and have applauded my choice of the programme for its efficiency and relevance to our field and our organization, which recently launched a global health initiative.
My new position is in the healthcare industry and more specifically involves work with health equity and inclusion, and the understanding of diversity and its impacts on health outcomes. Health is a global issue. This is especially important and relevant now with the Syrian refugee crisis and Canada’s involvement in the settlement of some of these refugees in my region. The Global Citizenship and Advocacy module in particular helped me understand networking at a global level to bring about policy change in the areas of health equity.
I also volunteer for the Liberal Party of Canada. The insight I gained particularly in the Global Public Policy course helped me in the grass-roots diplomacy strategy for the successful campaign of two successful Members of Parliament in this past year’s election.