Questions and answers:
- Before you came to Brookes what did you study and where?
- What made you choose Brookes as a place to study?
- What did you think of the course while you were here?
- How did your scholarship enhance your experience of the course?
- Since completing your course what career opportunities have you taken up?
- What are the best aspects of studying at Brookes?
- What advice do you have for others thinking of studying in the School of the Built Environment?
I studied B. Tech in Construction Technology from School of Building Science and Technology, Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT), Ahmedabad, India.
I was recommended the Development and Emergency Practice course at Brookes by many professionals and academics. Also I wanted to study such a course from the UK due to significant role it plays in international relations. I had applied also for a Disaster Management course at Cranfield University and it was a tough choice to make as both were reputable courses and I was offered scholarships at both places. But finally I decided to go for Brookes as the course was very well recognised in the humanitarian and development sector and I was quite impressed with the CENDEP alumni I had met in the field. They really came across as highly enlightened professionals and good at this practice.
The course was simply an eye opener for me. The entire gamut of subjects that were taught at CENDEP is highly enriching and play a significant role in shaping one’s perception as a practitioner. For me it was also my first time out of India and studying in the UK and Oxford also played a catalyst role in giving me a very broad exposure to global issues and help me develop a mature perception of world issues as a young and aspiring professional. The Professors at Brookes were simply amazing at teaching and the rapport they shared with the student was awesome. I found them highly approachable and supportive to students. We also had a highly diverse student group with varying experience and geography. We had students starting from Japan to Mexico and good mix of them coming from north and south.
First of all I doubt I would have been able to make it to this course without this scholarship. Getting this scholarship was like a dream come true. So I am highly grateful to the sponsors of this scholarship and Brookes for awarding this to me and take pride in becoming the first Hodgkinson scholar. This scholarship also made me focus on my study more as I could spare more time for studies instead of doing some student jobs for subsistence in the UK.
After doing a short internship with the UNDP, Philippines right after Brookes I returned to India and was offered some consultancy work by the Government of Gujarat to formulate the Reproductive and Child Health for 2004-2009 for the World Bank. It was a big step for me to work as a freelance consultant.
Soon after I started working with Save the Children UK and managed their Western India disaster preparedness programme supported by ECHO under DipECHO initiative and also responded to the Indian Ocean tsunami as a national emergency focal person. I progressed more as Programme Manager as I became Humanitarian Support Programme Manager with Oxfam GB to be part of their rapid deployment humanitarian team and worked in Aceh, Indonesia post-tsunami, Chad for responding to refugees from Darfur, Sudan, Ethiopia and Ghana in various emergencies.
Recently I have joined Oxfam Australia as South Asia Emergency Coordinator to cover the south Asian countries of India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. This gives me an opportunity to work in the region I originated from with robust academic as well as professional experience.
The wide range of subjects to select from and learn, the diverse student group with varying experience and the supportive academic staff were the best aspects of studying at Brookes.
The combination of courses/subjects offered made it a very lucrative and highly talked about and recommended course in the humanitarian and development sphere. Since I came from a planning and civil engineering background I was amazed with the range of subjects we could select from: Land policy, Shelter and Urban management to Human rights, Law and Activism and Armed Conflicts and International Humanitarianism. The course being practice-oriented makes it attractive to mid-career and aspiring and mid-career professionals who want to get out in the field and make a difference. Doing this is one of the biggest investments and then assets for practitioners as it makes a huge difference in who we are and in our work.
A good blend of theory and field work made the course stand out and students gained a lot looking at some of the best work in the field. I also had opportunity to get involved in some unique initiatives at Brookes. We were also the first batch at Brookes to start the Human Rights Film Festival which has now become a popular annual event.
I found studying at CENDEP and Brookes one of the best experiences of my life as it enriched my knowledge and helped me expand my horizons. I would advise prospective students to get the maximum from it and absorb it well as there may not be another opportunity for most of us to study again like that!