Ashbourne College embraces a university-styled, 'grown-up' approach to education that encourages students' independence and leadership qualities. Not only during their time at Ashbourne, but many of our graduates have also taken the initiatives and participated in various philanthropic and leadership projects. Chiazor Tracy Nwokoma is one of those.
Tracy graduated from Ashbourne in 2016 with an outstanding A*AAA to read Biomedical Sciences at the University of Westminster. She graduated in 2020 with First Class Honour and is now doing a Masters in Global Health Policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Whilst at university, she has proactively engaged in various extra-curricular projects including the LSE's Programme for African Leadership (PfAL) that aims to make meaningful changes to the social and political progress in Africa.
We have recently sat down with Tracy and learned more about her involvement in the PfAL programme and how her learning and working experiences at Ashbourne prepared her for these initiatives.
Hi Tracy, congratulations on joining the LSE's Programme for African Leadership! Can you please tell us a bit more about this programme?
In February this year, my team and I won the first prize in the Program for African Leadership at The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). The Programme for African Leadership (PfAL) is a tailored leadership and networking programme available to post-graduate students of African descent within LSE. As part of this programme, students are engaged in various activities, including a group project that tests innovation, creativity and problem-solving in relation to Africa. I applied for this programme at the start of my Master's degree in Global Health Policy and was selected as one of the members of the 10th cohort.
From the onset of the PfAL grouping, I had specified that my highest interest was education and I was thus elated when the co-ordinators revealed I would work with a group of others with similar interests. I was relieved when the other members of my team also agreed to work on a project targeting Dyslexia in Africa. Using a £30,000 budget, we were tasked with providing a solution to a specific issue, and our focus was education inclined. We developed a project aimed at tackling dyslexia in Sub-Saharan Africa, with the study situated in Nairobi, Kenya. Due to its variable manifestations, people with this difficulty are often stigmatised as incompetent. Children with Special Educational Needs in Sub-Saharan Africa, are faced with a lack of equitable access to education & inadequate diagnostic, management and sensitisation practices. Our proposed short film, Soma, was aimed at closing the gap between children affected by dyslexia and the awareness regarding this.
Special Education Needs are not a common topic that someone of your age would be interested in. What is the inspiration behind your decision to pick this area as your main contribution to the PfAL?
I have spent the past few years as an academic mentor at Ashbourne while undertaking my undergraduate and postgraduate studies. The hands-on experience I garnered from working with the Director of Studies and other members of academic staff fostered a strong interest in education within me. During my previous years as a student at Ashbourne, I received personalised academic support and observed that students with special education needs (SEN) were adequately considered, with practices put in place to ensure that they achieved the best academic outcomes - this had a profound impact on me.
You have been actively involved with many academic support activities at Ashbourne even after you graduated. How did you find your experience at Ashbourne helped you in a leadership initiative like the PfAL?
My contribution to this project would have been impossible without the experience I gained as both a student and part-time staff at Ashbourne. My role as Deputy Head Girl and Editor of the Ashbourne magazine in my year helped me develop adequate leadership, literary and project management skills. The mentorship culture at Ashbourne birthed a desire to help others academically, which has manifested in both my undergraduate role as a near-peer tutor at my university and now within the PfAL group task. Furthermore, working with students with SEN within Ashbourne helped me to see the variable manifestations of learning difficulty and create individualised interventions for students. Leadership is creating an environment that allows others to grow and my time at Ashbourne set the precedence for my growth within the field of education.
Furthermore, the scientific foundation I received at Ashbourne, especially within Biology has paved a way for academic success within tertiary education. I am also pleased to share that a paper I co-authored has now been published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology. The paper investigates the impact of Sprint interval training on serum epidermal growth factor (and other cytokines) in older men and can be accessed via this link: https://t.co/V6XcEiSXa8
My contribution to this paper was part of my undergraduate thesis last year, where I performed secondary quantitative analysis of the results generated during the primary research.
I believe without a strong foundation, all the effort spent building will go to waste. I am grateful to have experienced an environment like Ashbourne that has continued to impact my growth and development in all spheres of life.
We are very glad that you thoroughly enjoyed your time at Ashbourne and your experience with us has helped you grow as an individual. Thank you for taking the time to chat with us today.
We wish you all the very best with your Masters and the Programme for African Leadership. We hope to catch up with you again in near future!
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