Isabella Ugwumba

Special Educational Needs and Inclusion MA

View the course
  • Year of graduation: 2022
  • Current job title: Educational Consultant (Autism)
  • Current employer: Growing Minds
  • Industry sector: Research and Education
Why did you choose your course at UON?

After years of struggling to find an identity for myself, I believe there was a need for me to pursue a career in a field where I found the most fulfilment, which was in special needs.

Having known what it feels like to be vulnerable, I feel it’s imperative that there are more people dedicated towards supporting those that are vulnerable in our society, hence my choice to study the course.

What aspects of the course did you enjoy the most and why?

I thoroughly enjoyed the interactive sessions during lectures – it didn’t feel like the traditional educational setting, but rather a mutual learning environment for both tutors and students.

How do you think your studies have helped your career or personal development?

It equipped me with a theoretical background to build on the practice experience and knowledge I’d already acquired. As an Educational Consultant for Autism, I’m able to not only offer knowledge drawn from practical experience, but to buttress that with theoretical evidence.

The learning environment within the University is nothing like I’ve ever previously experienced – you’re given practically all the tools you need to succeed, so the ball is in your court. You can either decide to utilise these tools or do otherwise. I was able to experience a healthier person-centred means of learning that equipped me with a level of confidence in my strengths and abilities like never before.

Describe your career progression so far, and any plans you have for the future. Are there any particular hurdles you may face?

After completing my Master’s, I immediately became a private consultant on a casual basis, whilst dabbling in other non-related job roles, primarily to make ends meet. Nevertheless, I’m now fully settled professionally within my full-time consultancy role.

A hurdle that might be faced, especially as an international graduate if you choose to remain in the country of your studies, is that you may not necessarily find a job role well suited to your degree/expertise. As you may not meet all the necessary qualifications needed, irrespective of your further education. It’s important that you know that this is ok – start consulting on a casual basis and build yourself up from there – you’ll be surprised how many people and organisations are in need of advice with regards to the special needs sector.

Which, if any, skills and knowledge/understanding gained on your degree are most useful in your current role?

Research and analytical skills – I was able to learn how to conduct effective and/or efficient investigations and also critically analyse information to arrive at valid inferences. This helps me provide sound advice and/or information as a consultant.

Pro-active and creative skills – the learning style adopted by my former module tutors encourages you to use individual creative elements to learn. You’re provided with guidance, but are left to settle down and individualise your academic projects, which ultimately creates authenticity.

Are you currently involved in any community or volunteering projects?

Yes, I consistently endeavour to volunteer to support children with special needs through respite services provided by the charity Barnardo’s.

In one sentence, what advice would you give to undergraduates interested in this career path or anything you wish you had known earlier?

Make sure you communicate openly and honestly at all times about yourself or any situation – there are still kind people left in our world.

In ten words, or less how would you summarise your UON experience?

It was refreshingly pleasant, person-centred and appropriately supportive.