I finally got my MSc in Violence, Conflict and Development. Almost four years after the fact, it feels wonderful to finally close this chapter of my life. The year in London itself was quite a difficult year itself and, snowballed into one epic disaster after another and, ended in the brutal murder of my boyfriend.
The decision to go to London to pursue a Masters to further my UN career was in theory a great one but I ended up having quite a shitty year. Don't get me wrong, there were some great moments but I really struggled in every sense of the word. It cost me financially, emotionally and spiritually.
When I had to abandon the degree and, come out to take care of Wesley's murder, the sense of failure and, all that the year in London represented, was a gaping wound in my heart for almost four years. I had a crippling sense of failure and heart break. It was always at the back of my head.
But I got it done. Not to go and pursue a career but for the sake of getting it done. And, to stop having nightmares of me stumbling in hostels, examination halls and libraries.
I almost didn't get the degree because my outstanding coursework which I mailed from Liberia shortly before going to the US to deliver my baby was a bit late.
I appealed to SOAS and, this is what I wrote:
I have been living and working in Liberia, West Africa for the past 10 years, firstly with the UN and more recently in the private sector. I took a year out from 2008 to 2009 to get a masters degree in London to move forward in my UN career since a master's degree is an absolute requirement to move up the ladder. The year in London turned out to be very difficult personally for me for many many reasons and, I really struggled to meet deadlines and to focus on my studies. I failed to submit a crucial piece of coursework for a class called War to Peace and, hardly got started on my dissertation. I started seeing a Counselor to help me deal with depression and utter sense of being lost after exams. I believe a letter by the Counselor was filed at the Department. By the end of the 2009 summer, I learned that my partner was brutally murdered back in Monrovia and I abandoned everything to go back and attend to the crisis. After I attended to the last rites after dealing with the authorities, I decided to take over his IT company and, try to get back on my feet. I would not have been able to get a job in the UN again and was not interested either. I worked hard but always had my abandoned degree at the back of my head since it was such a sense of failure on top of the loss of my partner. I was finally able to re-gain a sense of balance and, afford to travel back to London in 2011 to convince SOAS to let me try to finish my outstanding requirements. I did! I of course could not stay on in London to start my studies and have access to a library. I had my university course books, notes in my brother's flat in London, and took them back. I started reading again, refreshing myself with concepts, requested access to the online library resources, and made up gaps by ordering books on Amazon USA and got my books shipped with my IT goods I was importing for my clients. I also made a friend at SOAS who was studied a year later who also brought me books now and then. I struggled a lot to read and write since I was running a business and, it was an emotional turmoil to find the motivation to be a student again. But I prevailed and, started to enjoy the topics and concepts I was grappling with. Since, I was writing on peace and justice while living and working in post-conflict state like Liberia where I myself experienced tragic loss, I found some amazing parallels to my own life. I finally completed my work and sent it with DHL in September 2012. It was a great sense of closure! I was sure that SOAS would take all my circumstances into consideration.
SOAS and particularly my Department supported my appeal and I got my degree.
I am so happy and, really have a sense of closure.