Forward Bound scholars first semester update
Our new Forward Bound scholars, Darine (left) and Mitchelle (right) who are studying MSc Health Promotion within the School of Sport and Health Sciences let us know how they’re getting on so far…
Since 2015, we have been delighted, with the kind support of Fiona Deane with money left to her by a family legacy, to have offered the Forward Bound scholarship to MSc Health Promotion applicants from low or lower-middle income countries.
This award is intended to support health and other professionals who are employed or who volunteer in roles where they will be able to influence and shape health promotion practice and policy on their return. Due to this generous donation, we have been able to offer tuition fees, accommodation, travel and a living subsistence each year to successful candidates.
There are now eight Forward Bound scholars. Our seventh and eighth scholars, Darine Alem and Mitchelle Kachere arrived in the UK and started at the University of Brighton in September 2022. You can read below how they’ve found their first semester.
The first semester was a turning point in my academic life. I experienced a different type of educational system which is totally different from the one in my country, Sudan. It was difficult at first, but as time went on, I became more involved in the procedure. In fact, the teaching method is amazing. It gives me the space to discover myself; what are my weaknesses and what are my strengths. The ‘Principals of Health Promotion’ module has been a highlight of my first semester. It has been beneficial for me to increase my knowledge and awareness of the different aspects of health promotion, as well as certain elements that relate to my previous experience.
Furthermore, working with others throughout the modules, has given me the opportunity to better enhance my listening, empathy, and communication skills. Several of the activities have been made greater fun by interaction with others. In the class, we greatly benefited from each other’s inspiration and support. Many students shared their knowledge and opinions with me on a wide range of topics, helped me view things from other angles, and inspired me to think for myself. I feel like I have learned a lot from them as experts. As a result of all of this, I have been able to learn more about a variety of topics, both those that interest me personally, and others that I was less confident discussing in class.
To sum up, I have acquired a great deal of understanding of the health promotion topics, issues, and areas I had never considered before. This will allow me to spread and share my skills and knowledge with others after the MSc. One of the competencies that I have gained is situation analysis, I will use this skill to make an evaluation of some of the existing health promotion programs in Sudan.
I have had the great fortune to take part in a mentorship program as part of my educational journey. Some lessons are only acquired by actual experience. Therefore, mentors are quite helpful, especially when starting a master’s program abroad. I always value other people’s input on how to most effectively accomplish my goals, because health promotion is a very broad field that offers a wide range of chances.
Through this mentorship program, I got the chance to meet Virginia Mzunzu, a former Forward Bound Scholar, and she has volunteered part of her time to support me on my new path. I’ve known I could learn a lot from Virginia ever since I first met her. We share a similar enthusiasm for our careers and a drive to always push above our limitations to reach our full potential, which is why I appreciate our mentoring relationship so strongly. We usually have meetings every 3 weeks or so, discussing the steps that I need to follow, to fully accomplish my goals. I want to give as much as I can to our field, and having a mentor like Virginia Mzunzu will undoubtedly help me do that.
On a personal level, coming to the UK was the greatest experience I’ve ever had. Continuing my education in a developed country has always been a goal of mine. The nicest aspect, in my opinion, was coming to Brighton, a place I find hard to explain how wonderful it is. I love the seafront.
I have joined the Bless Community at the University of Sussex, a group that plans weekly conversation topics. I have had the opportunity to meet new people and hear some of the success stories of other participants, which made taking part in those sessions a fantastic experience.
Along with that, I am involved with a local reading club in Brighton. I joined this group for the purpose of improving my English skills. Every Thursday night, there is a conversation about a specific book, tale, or poetry during which everyone shares their opinions and interpretations and discusses the texts’ meanings. This is a good experience for me since it introduces me to a lot of people, including a local playwright/novelist. Throughout our conversation, she found out that I’m a student at the University of Brighton, then she told me that she worked at the University of Brighton and the University of Sussex for a couple of years helping students with academic writing. She provided me with a lot of excellent pieces of advice on how to enhance my academic writing. Since then, the reading club is my favourite weekend activity.
I have no doubt that this experience will enrich my future. I’ll return home a better version of myself, one who is knowledgeable, self-confident, and who has a fascinating story to share with my loved ones.
Learning in the United Kingdom has been an eye-opening and wonderful experience. My first module ‘Principles of Health Promotion’ and ‘Behavioural Change’ gave me a full outlook on the fundamental principles of Health Promotion, which moulds me into an International Health Promoter. Learning with people from diverse professional backgrounds effectively enhanced my learning experience as our class is a multidisciplinary one comprised of various discussions and group work during lectures. Interacting with other students and professors was crucial since it helped me to expand my thinking and consider new ideas and viewpoints.
‘Research Methods for Health Professionals’ gave me a good understanding of the basis of research and the skills I need in the Public Health and Promotion field. My main challenge initially was academic writing but with support from peers, staff and practice, I have since improved.
I must acknowledge the support I have received during formative and summative assessments throughout the semester which is totally different from the assessment I would get back home. The formative assessment helped me in better comprehension of the modules, due to interactions with the lecturers and tutors. This increased my confidence in myself as a student and the outcomes of my results. The interactive lectures have helped me work on my teamwork and collaboration skills, which will be crucial when working in the Health Promotion field. Having been used to more lone working, teamwork is a skill that I have acquired that will lead to the enhancement of my skills in the future.
I am hoping to have significant experience and knowledge during college through service learning, volunteer work, and internships throughout the second semester. I want to work as a volunteer for an international health organisation like the World Health Organization once I get my master’s degree while I develop an independent non-profit. In order to give girl-children from low-income families access to healthcare, education, and control over their health, I would love to develop empowerment programmes for them.
For me, the mentoring programme has been quite beneficial. Joining the Forward Bound family gave me the chance to interact with people from a range of backgrounds and establish lifelong relationships that have contributed to my academic and personal achievements while making me feel more socially connected.
I have had several formal and informal interactions with my mentor who has helped me develop my annual goals, supported me in securing a placement, and taught me from their own experience. That helped me get a feel of where I am right now and the doors that this scholarship will open for me in terms of opportunity. I’m hoping to work with my mentor for a longer amount of time in order to reach my goals as effectively as possible and make the most of this fantastic opportunity.
I feel I was able to develop both as a person and as an International Health Promoter as I reflect on the many cultural experiences I have recently had the great honour of taking part in. I was able to visit so many various locations in Brighton and London with ease thanks to the laid-back atmosphere, welcoming individuals, and simple transport. Making friends with international and home students has improved my life and helped me in university. As I have never been this far from my family, being separated from them has been challenging. Yet because of technology, I can keep in touch with them much more easily.
My viewpoint on life has been broadened, and networking opportunities have been made possible by the culture shock and the unfamiliar food, scenery, and climate. My perspective on life has altered as a result of being able to fit in with other cultures, beliefs, norms and conventions as someone from a less diversified background. When interacting with individuals from other parts of the world, I remember thinking that this kind of cultural interchange would be quite beneficial in removing cultural preconceptions. On a more personal level, this experience has increased my resilience and bolstered my self-confidence.
Thank you so much to our two scholars for telling us about their experience so far.