Three Wise Brummies

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As we enter the Festive season, we asked members of our Postgraduate Class of 2020 graduating cohort for some wise words.

Congratulations to those graduating this December and welcome to your alumni community!

Wise words from… Vida Köster (MSc Environment, Development and Politics, 2020)

My advice to recent graduates is to lead with empathy. We all have little social bubbles we belong to in person and online, they’re unavoidable. However, learning to listen to different perspectives and opinions will broaden your horizons and allow you to glimpse at the wonderful, sometimes frustrating complexity of our society. No matter how old you get, or how educated you are or how convinced you are of what you believe in, hold on to a sense of curiosity and open-mindedness when faced with something new or different. Importantly, learn to focus empathy inwards. Do not let yourself become too proud to admit you don’t know something, that you are wrong, that there is something you do not understand. Empathy doesn’t mean you have to compromise your beliefs; it just means you recognise the humanity of those who are different from you. To build your empathy muscle, I would suggest you actively seek out other perspectives and listen to people from different backgrounds, whether through books, podcasts, shows or other.

Wise words from… Grace Trumbo (MA Art History and Curating, 2020)

I often think about three questions my professor asked: “What do you find yourself thinking about most when you’re bored? What could you fail at and still love? What could you hate and still do?” The answers to these questions might come easily or they may require persistence and thoughtful analysis. However, the investment required to discover answers for yourself should not intimidate you. Instead they should inspire you to say ‘yes’ to more opportunities. Because as you work toward your goals, doing your best for the right reasons, you might discover the progress put you right where you need to be.

Grace will be participating in the prestigious John Jay Institute as a John Jay Fellow beginning January 2021.

Wise words from… Mmekidmfon Umanah (MSc International Development, 2020)

The advice that “If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!” may sound controversial but I consider it very powerful. I have always believed that “Opportunity favours the bold.” And in my opinion, turning down a fantastic life opportunity only on the basis that you do not think you are qualified enough is something many people seem to do; however, we must remember that there will always be more to learn and getting out of your comfort zone is the only way to do it. I am currently the Country Director – Nigeria of DOT Glasses Czech. When I was approached by the Global CEO, I felt overwhelmed and excited at the same time. Overwhelmed because I had no experience in prescription eyeglasses – other than the fact that I wear one. And I am no Ophthalmologist either. I’d become one of the youngest country Directors in Nigeria – ever. But I was excited because I had been presented with an opportunity to create meaningful impact at a bigger scale than what I had prior been doing. It has been an amazing journey so far and looking back in retrospect, I would have been cross if I had turned it down.

So, my advice to anyone reading is, trust your gut, don’t mind being scrappy, and play the long game. Embrace the “hard work” that may come with any new opportunity and be happy to grind.

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