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Idelia Ferdinand

Idelia Graduation255By studying for my PhD in Disaster Management & Sustainable Development I wanted to explore the field more to see how I could contribute to the body of knowledge in the field of study. In addition I wanted to influence a change in behaviour and help to build a culture of safety in my country and by extension the Caribbean Region. I believe that I have been contributing to that change process and I plan to continue.

What are you doing now?

I work in the Ministry of Education with responsibility for integrating disaster risk management in the Education Sector. This includes working closely with schools to ensure they have disaster committees in place, they develop disaster plans, conduct hazard and vulnerability assessment and also undertake simulation exercises. I also provide training in disaster related topics to educational institutions and community groups.

What was it about Northumbria that made you decide to study here?

I was searching for a university that offered a blend of disaster management and sustainable development and Northumbria offered the best combination of this subject. In addition, in discussion of the research topic there was much interest and support provided from the initial stage so I felt comfortable that I would get the kind of supervision that I needed.

What was it like studying at Northumbria? Was there a mix of lectures, seminars, team projects? Was the feedback constructive?

The experience of studying at Northumbria was very fulfilling. We had well experienced, published and knowledgeable lecturers from a wide range of background related to the course of study. They were able to provide constructive feedback which helped to improve your quality of work. There were many opportunities to share your research through posters, PowerPoint presentations and networking opportunities.

I got along well with my supervisors who understood me quite well and were able to tell when I was going through a rough time based on my writing. One of my supervisors had lived and worked in the Caribbean and another had visited my country when the volcano erupted so they had a good understanding of my research area.

What impressed you most about our academic staff?

The academic staff at Northumbria were very diverse in terms of their knowledge and experience in the related subject area. They were also very supportive and approachable with there always being someone  willing to engage you in a discussion about your research even if they were not in that field. There was mutual respect between academic staff and students. You could seek advice from just about anyone and if they could not assist they would direct you to the appropriate person or persons.

How connected was your course with industry? Did you have a placement or work on projects? Were there interesting guest lecturers?

My study of Disaster Management and Sustainable Development offered the opportunity to interface and interact with renowned leading people in the field. The 'Dealing with Disasters Conference' was a great experience and I had the opportunity to assist with planning, presenting and networking with people in the field.  I have used that experience to help with the planning of similar conferences in my country.

How did Northumbria help you achieve your career goals/give your career an edge?

The skills and knowledge I learnt at Northumbria was instrumental in directing my career path. I am in a better position to make the connection between disaster risk management and sustainable development and trying to identify problems and solutions. I seek out and take every opportunity to share my research and contribute to the body of knowledge.

What was the best thing about your course?

The best thing about the disaster management course was the diversity of topics covered and how they related to current issues. It was easy to relate to what is happening in the field throughout the world.

What skills/ knowledge did you learn on your course that you use most now throughout your career?

  • Various research tools and skills 
  • Presenting your research in various ways - e.g. poster, PowerPoint, etc.
  • Networking at conferences

What did you enjoy most about your time at Northumbria University?

I enjoyed the cultural diversity at Northumbria in the staff and students, if you keep an open mind and appreciate the diversity your experience will be rich and worthwhile.The University was always trying to improve the services offered whether that was career guidance, library, gym facilities, accommodation or student experience.

What advice would you give somebody who is thinking of studying at Northumbria?

Northumbria provides the ultimate experience of academic, social and personal development. Engage fully with your academic and library staff keep an open mind and make the best of the well rounded experience that the University offers. The Student Union and the societies and opportunities it offers are numerous. The cultural diversity is rich and the location and city experience all contribute to the great experience that Northumbria University offers.

How would you describe your time at Northumbria in three words?

Enlightening, overwhelming, diverse.

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