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Posts tagged “Post Grad

Graduation

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On Friday I graduated from my Masters degree in Music Performance.

I don’t do pride much, as those of you who read my blog about my single release and other ‘achievements’ will know. But as I look back over the last number of years, I do feel a touch of pride indeed. I am no academic, I am horrendous at academic writing. My writing style is colloquial to say the least, not the approach required for academic writing at all. I still remember thinking the Under Graduate degree was a trial. On beginning the Masters degree, I came to a new understanding of the word stress. So, despite being a tad disappointed with my final grade, I am very happy indeed to have gained my Masters qualification. In the years to come, I hope I can make my family and Kingston University proud. wpid-IMG-20140124-WA0003.jpg

My graduation weekend began with the ceremony itself on Friday 24 January at The Rose Theatre in Kingston. Eason Chan, a Cantopop megastar received an honorary PhD at the ceremony, which added a certain glamour to the whole event. And I must say, getting to talk to him afterwards and asking questions of him at his press conference just made the day even better.

Eason Chan & TJWith family and friends in attendance, the day was beyond amazing. From Eason’s speech, to the vote of thanks by a ‘mature’ student, and then being awarded my degree by Julius, a man I know and have a great deal of respect for. He actually plugged me at the press conference! It was an amazing day. 🙂

With all the pressure I was under and the fear I wouldn’t complete the masters programme, I now ask myself if it was all worth it. My answer is yes, it most certainly was. Attending that ceremony did more than mark the end of of something. It helped to validate everything that I had to deal with over the last two years. My love for performance and for music, were the reasons I decided to extend my study in my field. Higher Education remains the way forward, no matter what certain papers may tell you. It is because of this value that it remains a bargaining piece in the political games that have been played over the last number of years in this country. And why the Liberal Democrats have much to worry about come the next general election. But, this isn’t a blog about politics. This is a blog about hope and belief. I will continue to advice others to study their passions. Seek to learn more about what you love. The PG course, as ardous as it can be, will question your understanding of your subject. It will make you question yourself and it will give you a better understanding of why you love what you love. So, it is important to know that the value of the degree isn’t in the money you have to pay for it. It is in what you get out of it. And I have always held the belief that if I want something badly enough there is nothing that will stop me from getting it. I am hardwired to try and keep trying until the final bell tolls. I worked two jobs to pay my way through my masters and didn’t get much by way of sleep. And once again, I ask, was it worth it? YES it most certainly was. Find out what you want, then go and get it. The first part of that is important. As once you know you want it, there’s no stopping you. In his speech, Eason Chan said that one should always have a kind heart. I’ve tried to keep with that motto. It’s harder to do at sometimes, but I still try. And will continue to do so.

I once told myself, when all seemed lost almost fifteen years ago, that I either fight or die, no middle ground. I’ve been fighting ever since. For me there has only ever been one option. And that is to win. And so I will, by nook or by crook. There are too many people to thank and continue thanking. I love you with all of me.

What’s next for me I hear you ask? Well, I’m currently working at Kingston International, with an amazing team of people. Will be there till the end of July. At this point I shall head to Italy to work till the end of Sept. Yesterday, I met with the MD (Musical Director) of the band I work with over there. Looking forward to working with them again. Afterwards, the next chapter in the adventure that is my life shall begin. To say I’m excited for the future doesn’t even begin to cover how I feel right now. 🙂

My graduation weekend concludes today, with a performance with my newly formed band ‘TJ and Friends’ at the Rose Theatre. So, if you’re in and around Kingston Upon Thames today, head to the Rose Theatre, where the 1st Annual Kingston Arts Student Festival will be taking place. The day begins at 12pm, till about 6pm. I will be on stage at 4.30.

Look forward to seeing you there! 🙂

And once again, thank you all for your support and your strength!

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The end of one Chapter! (So what’s next?)

I’m coming out of what has been a very stressful time. I just handed in my Masters dissertation. This sees the end of a two year journey of stress and more stress.

So of course, now is the perfect time to start thinking about what comes next and write a blog!

At the start of February 2003 I began working for Vodafone UK Ltd. After 18months of being unemployed, I received a job offer from Vodafone for a customer services position.I had turned down a number of sales jobs, as I felt none of them offered what I was looking for in terms of progression, and the traits required for selling were not the ones I wanted to necessarily develop. I wanted to be a part of an organisation where I had the chance for upward movement. So VF was the perfect place for me at the time. I spent two years there and in that time I was stretched, pushed, squashed, twisted and challenged in so many different ways. I was made to grow in ways I never thought I could or would. And definitely in much more ways that I grew during 5 years of working at the Birmingham City Council. I grew exceptionally loyal to the place, as it taught me that my future was much brighter than I had previously hoped. So when I left there, it was truly with a heavy heart. But, not a single regret.

10 years ago I never though I’d have a single degree. Today I finish my second. Ecstatic doesn’t even cover it!

The future looms ahead of me. And at 35 I am so full of life and energy. I cannot wait to see what’s next.

There are tooooooo many people to thank for the last 7 or so years. Institutions and individuals. Cultures and countries. Colours and continents have been opened up for me thanks to all of you.

My achievements, my worth, my everything is dedicated to you wonderful people in my life. The encouragement and in some cases the discouragement have driven me to strive beyond what people or even I thought I could achieve.

Let’s see what comes next!


Students and their University

A few weeks ago, I was in a meeting with some PGT students. Specifically, students studying for a Masters in Managing the Creative Economy. I had assisted with a project they were working on. Afterwards we sat down to chat.

I asked the questions I usually do, why did you choose KU? And has it met your expectations so far?

I found that for most, they had received offers from other universities, Goldsmith, UCL etc and they chose KU above these. So of course, I inquired why KU? To which unanimously the response was that the KU programme was the most practical. And to date they’ve not been disappointed. There have of course, been hiccups but, still no regrets. They love their lecturers and they enjoy their programme of study very much.

After querying how the programme could be improved, someone said it would help if embedded in the programme was an individual SWOT analysis for each student, as this is something that is needed in management as well as personal development. A lack of a measurable PDP was bemoaned. The discussion then swayed towards asking the question, whether it’s up to the university to do this or the individual.

So of course, the question was posed to the group, is it the responsibility of a PG degree to do this or a UG degree? While working in student politics, we once had over eighty people apply for one position and I remember the process of elimination. We live in an age where companies can have as many as sixty individuals applying for one position. Individuals can no longer wait until they are employed before a PDP is begun. And if one is going into business, it is absolutely essential that the business as a whole is continually aware of these things. So, where do individuals gain the skills necessary for it?

People no longer seem to go to university simply for the sake of learning. We go so that we can get a better job or climb the social ladder. It has been known for a while now that Higher Education is a key component to Social Mobility. So we go to university for a better social status, better income and to improve our own self worth. Universities are aware of this, so it behoves an institution to provide students with what they need. The changing role of the academic means that an academic can no longer state that his/her role is simply to teach, but to prepare individuals for what is to come.

What can the universities themselves do? One of the students said something very clearly “stop all the consultancy exercises and get on with the job of improving the university.” I found that quite interesting, as I think consulting those who will be affected by any changes made to or by the university is essential. But I do agree that at some point the consulting must stop and the work must begin. The perception to this particular student was that there is too much consulting and not enough action.

And probably more importantly, what can students do. What can we do once we’re at university? I think this is where involvement in things other than the academia side of university comes in very handy. Some courses lend themselves to such things, while many do not. So activities such as running societies or getting involved in sports clubs. Or even creating your own initiatives, these become exceptionally important as institutions like Kingston and many other “new” universities are well placed to provide excellent support for these students.

Personally, I found the biggest benefits I got out of my university were when I got myself involved in things. When I got involved with UNAKU (United Nations Association Kingston University) and began organising their charity music events and when I started my own Gospel Choir. These things got me introduced to a whole network of people, the very same people who in the end convinced me to run for Students’ Union President and were instrumental in my victory in both elections. And my experience in that post is absolutely invaluable.

While there is a great responsibility on the university to do “exactly what it says on the tin” a greater responsibility lies with the student that made the choice in the first place, to work towards gaining the skills they will need. After all, it is their future at stake.

Until my next blog, have a grand time. 😉


Post Graduate Study and Money

So I got up this morning, and the first thing I did was check my bank account as today I got paid. To my horror I received less than half of what I was paid. Income Tax, National Insurance and Student Loan deductions have all made sure that my financial status is negligible to say the least. I have my tuition fees to pay, alongside rent and of course trying to ensure I eat well (my mother is always asking if I am)
I remember very well being an undergraduate student and my financial worries then. Though I didn’t have to worry about fees. Nor about rent, as my student loan paid for that. All I had to worry about was ensuring I could pay for food and travel.
Apparently as I work for the university I study at, I’m not eligible for a Career Development Loan. I sought out Trusts etc but none could help me. In the end I’ve had to get two jobs, which so far still aren’t enough! With all the Income Tax, student loan and National Insurance deductions, it becomes harder to extol the virtues of PG study. The studying is never the problem, as I’m studying something I’m exceptionally passionate about. This, to me is the only positive right now. I love my subject and always will do. This is the only reason why I’ve not decided to pack it in and go seek out a full time job.
I have much experience in the world of work and a lot transferable skills, I’ve worked abroad as well as here in the UK. I’m international. So why am I still here?
I love pushing myself and striving to be the best I can. But, if working isn’t going to help me in the UK, I will leave here as soon as I’m done with my masters. I’ll find some place where hard work and perseverance will actually help you move forward instead help you continue marking time.
I do very much love the UK. But, if need be, I will leave here. I’ve always enjoyed travelling. I wonder which country to start with. The world is my oyster afterall. 😉