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Alison Kutywayo

What are you doing now? Alison Stretton-Downes, MSc Disaster Management and Sustainable Development alumni


I am currently a Program Manager in the Implementation Science team at Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute (Wits RHI) in Johannesburg, South Africa. The experience of conducting research in southern Africa in the field of HIV during my undergraduate degree and for my Masters put me in a good position to successfully secure a 6-month volunteer internship with Wits RHI, where I am now employed. My work spans a variety of implementation science programmes, supporting the provision of HIV prevention, treatment, and care for adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) and men in South Africa. Within the organization, I provide technical guidance in gender-based violence prevention and support. I now have 8 years’ experience in sexual and reproductive health research, implementation science, program monitoring and evaluation in developing country settings like Mozambique, Zambia and South Africa.  

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

I loved the city of Newcastle because of its proximity to my family home (home was only an hour away), the city wasn't huge and also was close to the beach! I also knew that both my BSc and MSc courses were of excellent reputation and offered me the chance to choose a wide range of really interesting subjects within the parameters of my degree subject.

What was it like studying at Northumbria?

The support from lectures was always amazing - and many of them are now considered colleagues, supporting me even since I have graduated.

What impressed you most about our academic staff?

There enthusiasm for their subject and ability to pass that on to the students.

What was the best thing about your course?

The diversity of the students and the lecturers and sharing those experiences.

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

Relating with and working alongside a diverse range of people.

How would you describe yourself in 3 words before coming to Northumbria?

Naïve, excited, wide-eyed

How would you describe yourself in 3 words after completing your first year at Northumbria?

Informed, maturing, enthusiastic

How would you describe yourself in 3 words after you graduated at Northumbria?

Passionate, developing, inspired.

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

The friends I made, the knowledge I gained from thought-provoking lectures/discussions and the self-development that took place over the 4 years.

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

Go for it! Work hard, pursue fun extra activities and opportunities and be a good friend!

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