Alumna turns scholarship opportunity into a career
Nadja Jepsen came to study for her Education MA at the University of Brighton after a scholarship opportunity enabled her to travel to England.
I received my MA Education from Brighton as an international student from the US. I won a scholarship which made Brighton a cheaper option than studying back in California. The scholarship made it possible for me to focus on my education and opt-out of a student loan.
Many peers and colleagues of mine have been burdened by student loan debt in the US, some have postponed major life events like weddings, house purchases and even children due to student debt. This impassioned me to pursue a career supporting students in their college access journey, with a focus on college affordability.
After graduation, I was initially laser-focused on getting a job at a university and applied to dozens of openings. While waiting for interviews I went to a course information night at a local college. Another participant talked about their job and their organization sounded like it aligned with my career interests. I jotted down the name hoping for job openings, and there were!
I ended up in the Scholarships Department at College Track, an education non-profit in the US. My work revolves around scholarships that College Track pays out to our scholars, who are low-income and first-generation students pursuing their bachelor’s degrees. It has been an exciting six and a half years in the world of scholarships, I’ve experienced their transformational power from both the student and scholarship provider perspective. I’ve been able to take what I have learned and now present at industry conferences and webinars about scholarship related topics, my next presentations will be in October and December 2021.
Prior to my time at Brighton, I was an English language teacher in Seoul, South Korea for three years. I had a wonderful time experiencing Korean culture and food while teaching but realized that I was interested in pivoting to the policy and administrative side of education. I found that a master’s degree was becoming an expectation for leadership positions in education so I started looking at course options and found Brighton. Since college affordability has always been a passion of mine, I was intrigued by the opportunity to live in England while also having a shorter gap outside of the workforce, and a lower tuition bill.
Though my time in Brighton was short, I made a great group of international friends who I still keep in contact with today. We did group dinners, nights out, and trips to London and Bath. They were a great support and it is nice to know that I have friends all over the world. I was also the course representative and published a short story in the Brighton Anthology while I was there.
My advice to students and recent graduates is to not get too fixated on what the first post-grad job needs to be. I never even knew that a career in scholarships existed, and I am so happy to have found a niche that I enjoy and can see the positive impact on the students I support.