Postgraduate Scholarships
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Name: Charles-Martin Jjuuko
Nationality: Ugandan
Course and Year: MA in Communications Studies

Tell us a little about yourself
I grew up in Entebbe, Uganda, a quiet, dormitory town at the edge of Lake Victoria. It was the first capital of the country in the colonial era. My parents were public servants, my father being a government statistician and my mother a midwife. Born during civil strife and uncertainty, radio helped me quench the thirst to understand what was going on around me. Radio became a part of my life, the BBC a colossus. The media has always been a fascination.

Why did you decide to study at Leeds?
About ten years ago, I was reading at the British Council library in Kampala to complete an assignment for one of my undergraduate classes. Two individuals standing nearby were whispering about further education in a conversation. They mentioned the name ‘Leeds University’ a couple of times. Soon, I would be looking for information materials about Leeds University and for me, my dream to come to Leeds had begun.

How did you find out about scholarship funding at the University of Leeds?
I found out about scholarship opportunities through the British Council office in Kampala, which provides a robust information service. The media in Uganda also occasionally carried information from the Kulika Charitable Trust about these scholarships.

How important was receiving your scholarship in your decision to come to Leeds?
Reading about Leeds and talking to Ugandans who had been to Leeds University, I had no doubt in my mind that it would be my first choice for postgraduate studies. But at the heart of my dream was the need to compete for a scholarship to come here. The first time I tried to compete I did not make it to the shortlist. I never gave up. Three years later, I gave it another shot and that did it.

What was the key decision which made you choose the University of Leeds?
After my first encounter with two individuals who passionately exchanged whispers about the University of Leeds, I occasionally bumped into individualswho had studied here at official meetings, and cocktail parties. Talking to them, I progressively realised that Leeds was perhaps the best option for the two areas vital to my career path: communications studies and development studies. This made the real difference. It made my dream to come to Leeds more plausible.

What do you like about your School?
Access, access, access. The accessibility to my professors and lecturers has been truly amazing. Besides, the Institute of Communications Studies has got an amazingly robust tutor-support system. Any challenge that I put forward to my tutor was responded to at the fastest possible time. My school has an interesting approach to the academic rigours of postgraduate studies. For instance, we used regular workshops to make group presentations about our understanding and application of theory introduced during lectures. Student groups were challenged to prepare engaging presentations and to defend the work before the rest of the class. These events allowed us to share findings and face a peer review. This approach also gave me an opportunity to provide facts about Africa, learn more about the UK, China and the rest of Asia. It was different. It was helpful.

What do you like about Leeds?
The best thing about Leeds is its metropolitan nature. It has got people who have come from all corners of the earth to live or study here. For the first time in my life, I met someone from Vietnam, a place that seemed too distant from my country, only to be seen through the mediated lenses of movies. One of the classmates in my group is from Cardiff, the friend I watch football with at the Student Union bar is from Liverpool, the workers at my takeaway are from Afghanistan. It all provides for a proper learning environment.

What are your future plans?
For the last ten years I have been a journalist, then a communications and development assistance specialist. I intend to return to the Outreach Unit of the International Criminal Court in Uganda to continue to work with the people who have suffered most from the conflict in Northern Uganda. Soon, my intention is to join the NGO world to play a more advisory role in the area of communications and development. My services will be immensely important in making the post-conflict areas of Northern Uganda safer and happier places to live in. Studying for my MA in Communications Studies has given me the tools to take another big step forward in my career.

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