Celebrating
a centenary
of Learning

  • 37
  • by Antoinette Adzoa Abiwu
  • graduated 2010
  • studied MEd in Counselling in Education
  • from Ghana

As a Catholic nun, l work with young people in the parish. I chose the Master’s in Counselling because l have a special interest in working with young girls who are facing difficulties in their lives.

l completed OLA Girls’ Secondary School, Kenyasi for my O’Level (1990) and OLA Secondary School, Ho, for my A’ Level (1992). I then went on to study at the University of Cape Coast, for my first degree, Bachelor of Education (English and Religious Study). After which I taught for some years before going for my Master’s Degree.

I studied for a Master’s in Counselling in Education at the University of Bristol. I chose this programme because l have a special interest in working with young girls who are facing difficulties in their lives. Secondly, as a religious nun, l work with women and children. Lastly, as a school administrator (house mistress), l felt l needed a basis in counselling to improve my ability to help both the staff and students.

I chose the University of Bristol because l found their course outline for Counselling in Education to be very rich. The details l saw on their website were exactly what l wanted to study.

My one year stay in the Graduate School of Education was very enriching. I felt truly at home within the environment and with my lecturers and my course mates. I felt accepted and comfortable. I enjoyed the presentations, practical counselling classes and best of all working with Helen Knowler as my lecturer and a mentor. Helen Knowler and Professor Tim Bond had the most influence on my studies. It was fun and educative working with other students from different countries and backgrounds. I had the chance of learning a lot from each person l came into contact with.

The specific aspect l wish to talk about is the relationship that existed between the lecturers and the students. I found this friendly atmosphere and the readiness of the staff to help very encouraging. I am positive that this has contributed to my successful completion with a distinction.

Since leaving school, l have been teaching at OLA Girls Secondary School, Kenyasi-Ahafo, Brong Ahafo Region, Ghana. I was also appointed the Assistant Headmistress in charge of administration. The school has a population of 1,300 girls. 97% of the girls are in a boarding house. I also run counselling programmes for them and serve as a patron to some women’s societies in the parish. As a Catholic nun, l work with young people in the parish, especially those who are at important stages of making decisions in their lives. I am fully involved in the missionary work at the Parish. I’m also responsible for organizing workshops for teachers in our private schools on the use of counselling skills in their dealings with the students. Finally, I have also been representing my congregation at international meetings and conferences.

Studying at Bristol has helped me in dealing with my students and sisters. My attitude and outlook on issues has changed. I am trying to put into practice the idea that every person matters. I have more confidence in myself and in my abilities as a school counsellor.

My proudest achievement since leaving the University of Bristol is that I was promoted to the post of Assistant Headmistress of such a big and reputable school immediately after l arrived from my studies. I also just celebrated my silver jubilee as a Catholic nun.

It is my hope and greatest wish to be able to establish a friendly counselling centre in the school. If l ever get the funds I hope to be able to reach more students and make it easily accessible to all.

The only thing l would say to a young person starting out on the same path is that you must put all prejudices behind you and face your studies with determination, confidence and all seriousness. Secondly, that they should be open and ask for help from their lecturers when they are in difficulties or doubt.

In a nutshell, it was rewarding to have had the chance to study at the Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol. I will always be proud of my alma mater.