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Alumni In Focus: Melisa Porter

Melisa Porter, SoE alumni, Msc Education (Leadership & Policy)

Press release issued: 23 June 2020

Alumni in Focus meets Melisa Porter, School of Education alumna, to discuss the reasons why she chose the School of Education to continue her studies, her decision to pursue an MSc in Education (Leadership & Policy), and the impact achieving an MSc has had on her future studies and career path.

Name: Melisa A. Porter

Course studied: MSc. Education (Leadership & Policy)

Hello there, would you mind telling me a little bit about yourself?

Hello, my name is Melisa Porter! I am a proud alumna of the University of Bristol (UOB), School of Education (SoE), and a recipient of the prestigious Chevening Scholarship. Last year was one of the greatest accomplishments in my life, as I worked the hardest, cried the longest, laughed the loudest, and felt the coldest weather! Some life, right!

I am a Global Advocate for quality and inclusive education with specific focus on early childhood development and children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). It is my philosophy that the most vulnerable among us deserve our undiluted attention and protection. I have therefore made it my mission to amplify the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, with emphasis on goal #4 (quality and inclusive education), as this is how I believe the world will become a better place.

I have been working in the field of education for over 8 years. During this time, I have held various positions, namely: writer, educator, trainer, and administrator. These roles gave me the privilege of advancing quality education through designing policies and programmes that cater to children’s diverse needs and build capacity among teachers.

Giving back to society is a big part of my role on this planet, thus, I have held varying international and local community service commitments with the most recent local ones being Deputy Chair for the Effort Early Childhood Institution and Director of the Young Children Priority One and Service Leadership Programme for the Kiwanis Club of UTech, Ja.

An islander by birth, Jamaica is my home, a foodie at the core, and an outdoor enthusiast. Ultimately, my life’s goal is to positively impact the lives of all children through advocacy, astute actions, and abundant affection!

What made you want to study for an MSc?

Studying for a Masters degree has always been a childhood goal. I was confident that further studies lied within my DNA, I just wasn’t sure what area to explore. However, through the many exposures in diverse educational roles, I realised that I had a passion for education policy and leadership, and also, that my country’s education system had challenges in successfully carrying out the core functions within these two key areas. It was then, that I decided to equip myself with the requisite skills and knowledge by acquiring the MSc in Education (Leadership & Policy) at the renowned UoB. This decision was ideal, as it enabled me to meaningfully contribute to discourses and research in education policy, nationally and globally.

Why did you choose the School of Education, University of Bristol, for your studies?

I chose the School of Education, primarily, for the suite of courses that comprise the MSc in Education (Leadership & Policy). The synergy of these courses (policy, leadership, social justice, international development etc.) provided a multi-disciplinary, yet critical approach that is needed to tackle global challenges and foster inclusive and sustainable development with education at the centre. Impressed with the structural depth of the programme, I pursued further research on the university’s foundational strength. My initial decision was instantly concretized, as I discovered the calibre of academicians, cutting edge research, and world-leading rankings that are associated with the University of Bristol. It was a done deal!

Having completed the postgraduate journey, here’s why, I would choose the University of Bristol, all over again. The joy of having helpful hands from administrative staff and Professors/Lecturers, who calls you by name even if you have met them once. A personal tutor that believes in you when you are at your lowest academically and emotionally - being thousands of miles away from home. The pristine guidance of a research supervisor who guides you in producing a masterful dissertation. Exposure to a fleet of opportunities that accelerates one’s holistic development through volunteerism, academic and professional growth. For example, through my role as an International Student Ambassador, Course Representative and Senior Resident, I embraced the ethos of the University of Bristol through service and representation, by catering to the academic and social well-being of fellow students. I am extremely happy that I chose the UoB!

How has completing your MSc helped with your career or further education?

Having completed studies at the UoB, I have felt a great sense of accomplishment. Such confidence came through the wealth of knowledge, skills, and experiences that were garnered throughout my studies. The intensive research rigour at the SoE, prepared me in such a way, that I was privileged, to be selected to present at the Open University and the University of Cambridge graduate conferences, and later at the UoB’s seminar for Education Studies undergraduate students.

Representing the UoB through these avenues bolstered my career and created a larger pool of scholarly networks and partnerships to draw from. Also, the exposure obtained from Bristol PLUS provided the perfect opportunity of interning at ASDAN (an education charity), where my skills in educational policy and exposure to best practices in SEND were honed. 

These groundworks in policy analysis positioned me to critically analyse the Disability policy at the University of Technology, Jamaica, facilitate training for mature students’ in SEND and creatively manage the daily functions of the university’s early childhood institution. I have also been instrumental in producing articles and educational responses to the current era in education, wherein the COVID-19 pandemic has affected vulnerable students.  

Essentially, graduating with a Distinction from a world-leading university like UoB has groomed me for greatness and established the right platform, for pursuing further studies anywhere in the world.

And finally, do you have any advice or tips for people who are thinking about undertaking a Masters, or continuing their education?

Like anything else, when you aim higher things become more challenging and ultimately test the strength of your core; same is true for undertaking a Masters. Here are my top three tips for travelling on the Masters path.

  1. Master Time –These two words eluded me until I began my journey at Bristol. I often pride myself in completing assignments under pressure, however, I soon realised that being on a scholarship and having to complete an intensive programme  will drive you crazy, if you mishandle the many activities  that you are expected to carry out. It was therefore important to strike a delicate balance with my academic and social engagements, particularly, because one’s mental and physical health is pivotal to achieving success.
  2. Establish healthy relationships – solid relationships assisted tremendously in completing my studies. It is no joke, ‘no man is an island.’ In keeping with this adage, I forged lasting relationships and networked with persons at school (academic groups), church (spiritual upliftment), and other social settings (entertainment) to aid the process in navigating university life.
  3. No matter what attitude! – There were times when I felt like it was too much. Case in point, completing the dreaded dissertation and feeling lost in learning the academic language. Nevertheless, I resolved that no matter what, I will finish. An important skill to acquire in life is ‘bounce-back-ability’- the ability to bounce back and achieve your goals, no matter what!

And finally, don’t forget to explore scholarships and grants that may ease the financial burdens that often come with successfully completing studies.

Thank you, Melisa, and the SoE wishes you every success with your future studies and career!

Further information

To find out more about studying at the School of Education, University of Bristol, visit our website: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/education/

For information on our postgraduate open days, go to the Univesity of Bristol postgraduate study pages: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/visits-open-days/

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