Andrea will graduate from the university in 2014 with a MSc in Enviromental Change & International Development.
Before coming to Sheffield, I had been working for five years with a congressional committee on science and technology in the Philippines. I had majored in Environmental Science and Chemistry in college and I wanted to combine that training with my recent experience in policy. Thus, an MSc in Environmental Change and International Development seemed the perfect choice. But all this would not have been possible for me without a Chevening Scholarship.
The University of Sheffield is highly ranked for both Environmental Science and Geography, where my course was based. Additionally, the International Development programme had ties with the departments of Town and Regional Planning, and the School of Health and Related Research, which extended the range of other modules I could take. For myself, I was able to take optional modules to that add value to my Master’s. I studied informality in the urban setting, and disaster management—pressing issues in my own country. Not to mention that it offers a dissertation with placement opportunity, and a field class either in Africa or Asia.
The Geography department’s dissertation with placement module allows students to work with development NGOs around the world whilst doing their research for dissertation. I was lucky enough to have been awarded an Overseas Student Scholarship by the University, which allowed me to go to Cameroon on placement from June to July. I was working on community mapping with forest-dependent communities. What’s particularly amazing about this experience is not only that I got to travel, but that I was able to conduct research for my dissertation in another tropical country. In my course—Environmental Change—context is very important, and I was glad to have been able to study in another country with similar climate to mine.
The Geography department insists on a lot of reflection, which I think is very important in doing development work. My former training in science assumed objectivity through methodology, which is not always true. I think self-awareness is very important in development studies, and knowing to locate oneself in different contexts can have a profound effect on one’s work.
The programme attracts a diverse set of people, from more mature, mid-career people like me, to fresh graduates of various backgrounds and countries! I’ve had classmates who were English majors, doctors, pollution control officers, etc. So you get a lot of different perspectives and experiences.
I would really like to continue doing work on science policy in my country. Recently I have been offered the position of Programme Manager for the Newton Fund in the Philippines, and I am really excited for the chance to enrich UK-Philippine relations through science and technology for development.
My experience of Sheffield has been wonderful. A great university in a lovely, lovely city – simply put - I love Sheffield! I love that the Peak District is 30 minutes away; and that I’m 2-4 hours away by train from all the other great cities in the UK. More importantly, the people here are friendly, the food is actually very good, and the ales are beautiful and cheap.
If you decide to come to Sheffield go and explore the Peak District! Seriously though, take the time to walk around the city and nearby environments. Exploit the many academic and non-academic amenities offered by the University and the city, such as concerts, independent theatre and cinema, academic talks and research conferences, etc.
Open yourself up to everything you can learn both in and out of the classroom.