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“Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Throughout my life, I often come back to that old Mark Twain quote –

“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

It basically reaffirms what we all know deep down – that we are far more likely to regret the opportunities we let pass us by than the ones we grabbed with both hands.

This quote was buzzing around in my head when I first came across the web page for the MPH International Development course. I had graduated from my undergraduate programme in 2013, proud of my achievement but a little worn out and unsure of my next step. My degree – in Politics and International Relations – had left me distinctly underwhelmed with all things legislative and firm in the knowledge that I would never work in government or something similar. However, it had also fired an interest in international health, which led me to consider postgrad study.

Finding information on a course that covered both public health and international development was exciting. Despite my thoughts of “am I capable?!” I applied immediately and – to my delight – was accepted. Yet reality soon dawned that with limited money in the bank (hello overdraft!) and a mildly frazzled brain, I was in neither the financial or personal position to take up my place that year. So I deferred – and moved to Australia. A little extreme perhaps, but I had friends out there, prospects of a job, and a desire to spread my wings.

I migrated to Sydney to work and save money – though it wasn’t long before old Mark Twain reared his head again. I repeatedly came across people and situations that reminded me of how much I wanted to study and work in global health. As time went on, I realised I had indeed sailed away from my ‘safe harbour’ to explore more of the world, but the world I really wanted to establish myself in was waiting for me back home. I kept my ear to the ground for ways of funding further study. About four months into my time in Australia, I came across a scholarship that I was eligible to apply for and knew I had to go for. To my amazement, I got it.

I returned to the UK in summer 2014 to migrate again, this time to Sheffield for the start of the new academic year. Since embarking on the MPH, I have learned a great deal. It hasn’t always been easy, but the knowledge I have gained and the things I have achieved so far have been beyond what I ever could have imagined. When I first came across the course back in 2013, I was excited but daunted – would I be good enough? Could I really do it? And then came the question – how will I ever afford it?!

Needless to say, it hasn’t been a linear route to postgraduate study, but if the last couple of years have taught me anything it’s that if you have that nagging urge to do something you shouldn’t ignore it. There are innovative ways of making things happen and you owe it to yourself to pursue your dreams – to ‘explore, dream, discover’. Postgraduate study is allowing me to do just that.

Sarah Hodgkinson, MPH International Development
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