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MA student Courtney Cokely discusses programme choice, academic experience and support

Courtney Cokely is a UCC MA student of Contemporary Migration and Diaspora Studies from Boston

MA student at University College Cork

Describe UCC in three words

Welcoming, Challenging and Dynamic

Tell us about your programme

I found my MA programme online in 2010.  I was interested in pursuing my MA abroad, and I was impressed with the strong academic reputation of Irish institutions.  I was also keen on the idea that I didn’t need to go through any complex visa process to study in Ireland.  Truth be told, I was also attracted to Ireland because the cost of undertaking a degree for 1 year is significantly less than a Master’s degree in the US.  Having worked in international education, it also made sense to “practice what I preached” and move abroad for a new academic experience.  I had an academic background in history, but I spent 6 years working with students going abroad as part of my career, so I wanted an MA program that would suit both my academic background and professional experience.  After narrowing down my programs to just 4, I ultimately chose UCC because I was impressed with the individual attention both the international office and the head of the MA provided throughout the application and acceptance process.  Numerous emails and phone calls were exchanged, and I felt from the very beginning that the staff at UCC wanted me to be a part of their community, and I appreciated and valued this support.  I also lived in Cork in 2005 on the USIT work exchange, and I was excited for an opportunity to return to “the real capital” and to spend more time close to friends I met back then.

How has your academic experience been?

I was last a student in the spring of 2004, so it was a bit of a challenge to adjust to college life again.  However, I have felt that the academic experience has been worthwhile.  Although challenging and rigorous (especially now as I complete the final hurdle: the minor thesis!), I have found that the small class size (there are just 8 of us in the program) has enabled me to develop strong relationships with the professors; I am comfortable approaching them with questions, concerns and suggestions.  I have also become very close with my classmates, and their friendship has become indispensable throughout the year, especially during study month when we relied on each other to help with exam preparation and to ease stress and anxiety!

Did you have the support you needed?

I was in a unique position when I arrived in Cork because I was familiar with the city and had a strong network of friends living here, so I did not feel I had to avail of the support services that were offered.  With that said, I know from attending orientation that the international student support officer was available to aid with any questions or concerns I had.  If she could not be of assistance, I felt confident that she could guide me to the proper resource.  I also felt very comfortable from the start that I could rely on my course supervisor to assist me with any issues.  He made it a point to always ask how I was doing and to see if I need anything, knowing that I was a bit further from home than the others in class.

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