Lois Simche Lebbie Masters in Social Science.
University College Cork
- How did you discover the Masters in Social policy at UCC, and what attracted you to the program?
Prior, to my coming to Ireland I was working in Sierra Leone at the Ministry of Gender and Children’s Affairs in the strategic planning, policy, and research unit. I realized that we developed good policies, but sustainable implementation had been a challenge and that desire pushed me into searching for opportunities that will upgrade my technical skills. The research aspect was what got me attracted to the course and thanks to the Irish Aid Fellowship for making this dream a reality.
- Did you have any hesitations about studying abroad, or in Cork?
Studying abroad is one of the most critical decisions I have ever made in my entire life.
I was most hesitant about society’s judgment on me making an extraordinary demand in leaving my family for a whole year.
I became at ease after I had a womanly conversation with my mother-in-law who agreed to step in for me whiles I am away. I was also hesitant about being attacked on racism and fitting into Europe’s educational system which differs greatly from mine.
Personally, I think there is more to life than just being a wife and a mother. For issues like inequality, gender-based violence to be dealt with, more women need to be empowered. I am sure education is one of the fastest mean to gain such empowerment. Again, we as women should make up our minds to leave our comfort zones to become a better person whiles negotiating the physical, emotional, economic implications with our families.
- Do you feel connected to the University during your experience? What was it like communicating with and getting to know, your lecturers and fellow classmates?
Even though these are not just normal times of learning because of the interruptions of the Covid-19 pandemic, I still feel connected to my university, lecturers, and classmates virtually. Initially, the e-learning tool was challenging because I was not used to that back home and everything here is on a modern platform.
I was panicked at the outset and I further expressed my fears to my course director who took her time to create a welcoming and connecting learning atmosphere for both international and homecoming students with clarity on how to access learning resources. In a matter of time, I was able to grasp the concept and did my best to avoid academic isolation.
The International Student’s Office has also helped answer queries, I also belong to the Christian society where we read and discuss religious matters, this had helped to strengthen my mental well-being. With all the netiquette core values (internet ethics) I learned from the University website, I do feel a sense of belonging to my university, as I desire to leave an imprint before I return home.
- What is your favourite aspect of this program?
I love so many aspects of the course but what stands out for me is how I have learned how to critically analyse issues, organize my time and space, and develop skills to argue contemporary issues that affect humanity. To crown it all, I have enjoyed the multidisciplinary character of the course that is embedded in everyday life.
- What would you say to someone who was considering enrolling in this program?
I will politely cheer them to enrol if they desire to make an impact in people’s lives, more specifically around getting social relationships right more specifically on being sensitive to the morals and interest of disadvantaged people. I will further enlighten them on the evidence-based theoretical and practical knowledge that this course encompasses. This course empowers its students on how to influence decisions in responding to social problems.
- During your time studying this Masters, has your perspective/understanding of Social Policy changed?
My concept of the social policy prior to my studies was a welfare-centred approach wherein Government and humanitarians address the social issues for the well-being of people but throughout my course, I have come to realize that it involves more about how we social scientists uses our methodological research skills to make an impact on the lived experience of social cohesion.
- How do you feel your master’s in social policy at UCC will benefit you in your career? Do you think it sets you apart in your field? What are your future plans?
Having an international experience has already set me apart, I can now think critically within a global concept and implement it locally.
My analytical skills have developed which is key in being a policy analyst as there is a prospect of me having a promotion within my job. I am looking for opportunities where I can influence change, mentor young people, and develop within the scope of making an impact.
- Finally, tell us about your role as an International Student Ambassador?
As a Student Ambassador, I have been privileged to enjoy diversity even though much has not been done because of the covid interruption. That has not limited me in enjoying my course or experiencing cork because at the end of it all, I have the responsibility to share this journey with other students and International Students.