My name is Kingsley Arinze Nworah and I am Nigerian. My first degree was in Applied Chemistry from the Usman Danfodio University Sokoto, Nigeria, in 2009. Thereafter, in 2010, I proceeded to do a Postgraduate Diploma in Education to aid me in my teaching career, because I was a secondary school chemistry teacher at the time. During the diploma program, I became interested in counselling and its effect on students and the society at large. This led me to seek a good university abroad that offered counselling at Master’s level.
On my search I came across several schools offering counselling as MA or MSc, but the University of Bristol, Graduate School of Education (GSoE) offered their one year counselling program as MEd. That was what interested me about coming to Bristol, because I didn’t just want to do any kind of counselling - I wanted to use it to help my students. Therefore, the counselling in education was what I decided I needed and that was what the GSoE at Bristol was offering.
Studying at the GSoE from 2011 to 2012 was an eye opener for me. Until then I knew I was interested in the education sector of my country, but I didn’t know how to go about improving it. Education courses in my environment were not popular, and many regard education as a non-lucrative field of study. Many saw it as a waste of time and resources; they assumed that there were other better courses to study than education. However, at the GSoE, all of these perceptions were proved wrong.
I got involved with different students from other countries; people with different views from mine. I attended lectures and seminars where a variety of research on education was discussed. I met with different academics at the GSoE who were at the frontline in their area of study. My contact with these people motivated me towards the path of education even more. My horizon was broadened concerning education and what it entailed. I was introduced to different ways of carrying out educational research, some of which were totally new to me as a result of my background as a science student.
Doing my final dissertation was a memorable experience for me at the graduate school, it afforded me the opportunity to reflect and decide on the pathway I wanted to take in my educational career. We were told to choose a topic that interested us, and so I sought a topic that related to my life and what I intend to do. Also, before the dissertation I was confused as to which aspect of education I was interested in. The dissertation helped me to clear up the confusion. The resources in the library at the graduate school of education were great. All the materials I needed I found there. This helped the actualization of my dissertation a great deal.
I would say I was so fortunate to work with a supervisor who understood where I was coming from and was determined to bring out the best in me. Helen Knowler, among other faculty members I met, had an outstanding influence on my stay at the graduate school. As a science student coming from Nigeria, there were a lot of challenges for me to deal with academically. Helen was always there to help guide me in the right direction. She helped to arrange my different ideas towards achieving my purpose. Also, the staff at the GSoE were very nice and welcoming. They all made my stay at Bristol worthwhile.
Right now in Nigeria, I am a school counsellor. I work with adolescents in secondary schools in one of the states in northern Nigeria. My time at Bristol exposed me to many ways of dealing with young people. I read lots of publications and wrote many essays on counselling young people. Now I am putting all those theories at Bristol into practice and I am not disappointed because they are working out well. My work at Bristol makes me look at every situation around me now with an analytical mindset. The theories I read at Bristol and the realities I see hear in Nigeria are culminating to what I want to do in my PhD, which is my next move.
My proudest achievement since I left Bristol is that now I am clear about my career in education, and I know how to go about it. Sometimes I think that if I never came to Bristol, I would not have reached this state of realization. Thanks to Bristol and to all those at the GSoE. Bristol was a great place for me and the GSoE made me realize my capabilities and my interests.