Support for African PhD Students

Are you a PhD student enrolled in an African university?

Then, I specifically wrote this for you. I have worn those shoes, and I understand how it pinches. I have a good understanding of the peculiarities of conducting research in Africa, especially in the science field, and I would love to help 😊

I can empathize even more if you are female because I have been through all the seasons.

I started my 4-year PhD programme as a single lady who wasn’t in a relationship. Halfway into my first year, I met an amazing man (my now husband). We started a long-distance relationship, leading to our wedding at the beginning of my second year. A few months into my second year, we got pregnant and decided a long-distance marriage wouldn’t work with a child in the picture. So, my husband moved to Ghana (where I was studying) – which turned out to be the best decision. 

For the latter of my second and the early part of my third year, I was combining the rigours of a PhD program with pregnancy – a completely new experience for me. My son was born during my third year, at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the lockdown was a blessing in disguise (allowing me some time to bond with my newborn), it came with unforeseen challenges that were going to seriously impact my project timelines. Challenges like significant delays in procuring reagents needed for certain critical aspects of my research and a cancelled research visit to the UK that would have provided an opportunity to complete my research. Also, there was the childcare dilemma – all the daycare centres were closed due to the pandemic. As a foreigner, I didn’t have any relatives nearby I could rely on, and I couldn’t find a suitable babysitter/nanny for my child.

At the beginning of my final year, I realized that the chances of completing my programme on time were slim. I knew I needed to take very proactive steps if I was going to hand in my thesis on time. Extending my programme after my scholarship expired wasn’t even an option, as my tuition fee was too expensive. I can’t even describe how challenging the journey was. On many days, tears were my best form of self-expression, but I didn’t let it end there. Instead, I braced up to the challenge and eventually, against all odds, I handed in my thesis at the stipulated time. 

Was my thesis perfect? Absolutely not, but guess what? It was completed.

I learned a lot through these experiences. I made many mistakes, but I have learned/am learning from these mistakes. I believe in the power of shared experiences; no one needs to repeat my mistakes.  

So here is how I think I can help: 

▶️ If you are going through really challenging times and need someone to talk to who can listen and offer some advice, please reach out to me on LinkedIn or via email (piakazue@gmail.com).

▶️ If you have burning questions you would like to ask anonymously, drop them here. Once a month, I will post answers to these questions here, so please be on the lookout. 

▶️ Are there specific topics concerning PhD life you would like me to write about? Feel free to reach out as well.

You do not often have control over the situations life throws at you. Still, you can choose to make the most of unpleasant situations; you can see the good in every evil and turn your mess into a message. 

I am cheering you on!

Kindly share with anyone who might need this.



Categories: Free Resources

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2 replies

  1. Thanks for sharing this, ma’am. Your experience is indeed a robust one. Glad to hear you could still turn in your thesis on time despite the many peculiar challenges you had to grapple with 😃😊.

    I think this excerpt from the piece stood out for me:

    ‘On many days, tears were my best form of self-expression, BUT I DIDN’T LET IT END THERE.’

    Tears and all the emotions they come with may be necessary, sometimes. However, they do not get any real work done. What matter most are the steps/decisions we take after letting out all those feelings. Well done 👏🏾👏🏾

    Like

    • That’s right. We are all humans, and it is perfectly normal to be emotional when things aren’t going according to plan. I’m glad you got the essence of what I communicated right there: taking the steps required to get the real work done.

      Thanks for constantly engaging, Wealth 😊

      Like

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