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“The course has been an eye-opener to professional discussions” – Meet Andrea: one of our online students studying the Corruption and Governance MA

We spoke to Andrea about her time studying our online Corruption and Governance MA. Andrea has gained experience working as a Project Assistant in a range of organisations in her native Mexico, including for the Secretary of State, the Civil Society Group for Open Government, and Development Alternatives Inc. She told us how the course has given her real-life insight to her experiences, and the ability to speak authoritatively on the issues facing her home country.

1. Why did you choose to study online with the University of Sussex?

I had been looking for a way to study a master’s programme that would allow me to keep working to be able to pay for it. After much research, the online MA at the University of Sussex was not only financially friendly, but also the workload of 20 hours per week fit perfectly with what I could realistically manage while still working. Additionally, the University of Sussex programmes are quite prestigious, which made it even more attractive to study online.

2. Why did you choose to study our Corruption and Governance MA (online)?

As a Mexican citizen, I’ve heard all my life that the government is corrupt and that’s why the country will always have a massive poor population, weak institutions, and a weak economy. Additionally, as my professional career progressed, the topic came up once again when advocating for open government, transparency, and accountability. I decided that once and for all I needed to understand this mysterious and vague concept that supposedly “holds Mexico back”.

3. What’s been your favourite module so far and what made it so engaging?

It’s hard to pick just one, so here are a few that I absolutely loved: Defining Corruption, Measuring Corruption and Money in Politics.
The Defining Corruption module was an absolute delight because the readings were very insightful as to how corruption can be broken down and discussed from different points of view and theories. The module’s last assignment was a video presentation about proving whether a corruption case really fit with the definitions that we studied over those 7 weeks. It was so fun to do that assignment and compare different theories and definitions as to why a case can or can’t be considered corrupt.

4. How have you found online learning?

Learning online is absolutely a great experience. I’ve gotten to know so many people around the world that are interested in this topic. Their opinions and experiences are so valuable because context matters when studying corruption. I’ve collaborated closely with colleagues on several assignments and I’m now very proud to also call them my friends. The tools that the University of Sussex provides to work online and collaborate with other students are absolutely fantastic!

5. How do you manage your study time around other personal and professional commitments?

The trick is to schedule and block out time in your diary every day (and even more so on the weekends) to know how you’ll be progressing with the reading, the online material, podcasts, weekly short assignments, and online classes with the module leader. This applies for both personal and professional commitments. Once you know what those two schedules look like in your diary, you can prioritize the use of your time. It’s especially important to remember to schedule time for self-care and mental health! Yes, there’s a workload to comply with, but self-care should also be a priority to continue learning.

6. How has this course impacted your career and/or personal development so far?

The course has been an eye-opener to professional discussions as well as with people in my life. It has given my tools that I wouldn’t have imagined – not only to interpret possible corruption cases in the media, but also to understand the context of why and how it developed. Regarding the impact on my career, I can provide concrete ideas and plans as to how to keep advocating for open government. In my personal development it’s an absolute pleasure to the see how I can share what I’ve learned in a casual conversation, and even with students that have never even talked about the subject before. It’s very empowering to not be guessing on the subject, but to speak from an informed stance.

7. What advice would you give to anyone considering this online course?

The online course has been an absolutely marvelous experience, specifically how the University of Sussex has set up the platform through which one interacts on a daily basis. It’s impressive how even though you’re far away from the campus you feel like an actual student there because your Student Success Advisor reaches out frequently to see how you’re doing, the module leaders give you live classes and they’re available to chat one-on-one, AND the access to the online library is the best! You need to give it a chance, I can assure you that you won’t regret it!

 

If you would like to learn more about the online Masters that Andrea studied with us, please visit the Corruption and Governance MA (online) course page.

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