True changemakers – Chevening scholars looking to make a difference back home

News Page 9th November 2018

When the government offers to pay your University fees so that you can study your Master’s – you must be doing something right.

University of Northampton postgraduates Cilandell Glen and Nothando Mtungwa were carefully selected by the UK government for this honour, when they were awarded the Chevening Scholarship.

Funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and partner organisations, the scholarship is an international awards scheme aimed at developing global leaders for the future.

The University’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Nick Petford, met the two scholars last week as they shared their inspirational plans for the future.

Cilandell, from Guyana, put her blossoming career, as an adolescent health coordinator within the Adolescent Health Unit at the Ministry of Public Health in her country, on hold to study MSc Child and Adolescent Mental Health.

Cilandell said: “It was a huge decision that I had to make, but for me I felt I needed to take this opportunity. Even after receiving the promotion to act as the adolescent health director within the Ministry, becoming the director of the unit is a goal that I had set to accomplish as a career plan and one that I’d been working towards acheiving. I just felt this experience would make me an even better director – having a Master’s can help to contribute further and influence change even more in my country.

“I carried out extensive research in child and adolescent mental health, as that is one of the areas my country lacks support and knowledge in currently. I wanted a university that would fit with my interests back home. So I researched all UK universities that offered this course and boiled it down to five, of which University of Northampton was one.

“I chose this University because of the programme content – in my work at home I interact a lot with parents, children and schools. When I looked at the programme’s information – the content focused on individuals, communities, families and also working with schools – and that was a perfect fit with what I do day in and day out and with what I wanted to explore further.

“I am hoping that after I have completed my Master’s it would put me in a better position to develop and promote programmes and activities for adolescent health in my country.”

Nothando, from Zimbabwe, has similar ambitions once she has completed her Master’s and commended the University’s teaching techniques as she studies her chosen subject; MA Special Educational Needs and Inclusion.

Nothando said: “Poverty is the biggest issue in Zimbabwe, educating children with disabilities isn’t something we can even address at the moment. We struggle with the basic issues, such as shortages of provisions and infrastructure to educate children without special education needs. That is why I wanted to study here and try to make an impact on this situation.

“I had read about the University receiving the TEF (Teaching Excellence Framework) gold award which I feel is well deserved. From my own experience so far on my programme, the help that I am getting from the lecturers, the module tutor and the personal tutors is invaluable to me.

“I have some fantastic lecturers, I was recently taken to a local school that works specifically on learning disabilities and interventions – which was a total first for me to see this type of school in action. I think it’s great that my lecturers take it upon themselves to bring me to places that they think would benefit me and my learning.”

This prestigious scholarship has provided a plethora of opportunities for our two scholars, and they are thinking big when it comes to their future.

Cilandell said: “One of my main goals for the future is to start my own organisation that focuses on working with children, helping young people and working closely with families struggling with issues associated with mental health back home. And I plan to work closely with the Changemaker Hub to help make that goal a reality, as I have read they have helped several people start their own businesses, charities and organisations.”

Nothando added: “Right now Zimbabwe has many cultural barriers that make any intervention impossible. What I want to do back home is set up a school for children with special needs – with a focus on children with autism and similar special education and learning needs. I am hoping the learnings I will take home from this course will help to influence change at a higher level in my country.”

For more information on MSc Child and Adolescent Mental Health, visit the course page.

For more information on MA Special Educational Needs & Inclusion, visit the course page.

To read more about the Chevening Scholarship, you can visit the Chevening website.



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