Navigating the Maze of master’s Education: My Journey in International Relations
By Lynace Mwashighadi
In the bustling world of journalism, my journey into the realm of academia was not a casual one; it was born out of a confluence of experiences and a deep-seated desire to expand my horizons. It began with a profound realization during my tenure with the State House Press Corp at Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC). It was a period marked by international exploits, a time when I delved into the intricacies of Kenya’s fourth President Uhuru Kenyatta’s bilateral engagements, corporate liaisons, and global business deals. These experiences exposed me to the intricate web of international relations, sparking a curiosity, that left me yearning for a deeper understanding of the subject, a knowledge that would enrich my reporting and add depth to my journalistic narratives. These experiences would ultimately lead me to pursue a master’s degree.
The catalyst for my pursuit of a master’s degree was not merely an academic ambition; it was also personal odyssey intertwined with my professional identity. The foundation of this academic venture was laid during 2015-2018, the years of my immersive exposure to international affairs. However, life had other plans, and it wasn’t until the tumultuous year of 2021, amidst the chaos of the COVID-19 pandemic and the profound personal loss of my mother and sister, that I found the courage to embark on this educational journey.
Choosing the United States University- Africa (USIU) for my Master of Arts degree was a decision rooted in the university’s esteemed reputation. With no prior background in International Relations, I approached my coursework with a blend of curiosity and determination. My history class in secondary school had always fueled my fascination in historic events, making my transition into the complexities of International Relations surprisingly natural. Coupled with my background in business reporting, the decision to enroll for MA in International Relations was an easy one.
Deciding on a research topic
The pivotal point of my academic voyage arrived when I had to choose a research topic. Drawing from my passion for understanding regional economic dynamics and my experiences in business journalism, I initially intended to research the impediments faced by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCTA) implementation. Given my background as a senior lead anchor and producer of a business show at the BBC, I was drawn to a research topic that resonated with my expertise and interests. I chose to explore “How the Regional Economic Trade Community would impede the implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area,” a subject closely aligned with my prior reporting and interviews. I believed that my journalistic skills would seamlessly transfer to academic research. However, my academic journey took an unexpected turn when I decided to major in Foreign Policy and Diplomacy, which required me to focus my research on areas of specialization. However, my academic path led me to the realm of Digital Diplomacy and Kenya’s Foreign Policy, specifically focusing on the State House Twitter Diplomacy during President Kenyatta’s term.
Crafting this research was not without its challenges. Academic research demands a level of rigor that journalism, for all its depth, doesn’t fully prepare you for. I found myself engaged in intense discussions with my supervisor, Dr. Nicodemus Minde, struggling to articulate my research problem statement. Yet, this struggle mirrored the resilience I had developed as a journalist, where each story is a puzzle waiting to be solved.
My academic journey took an unexpected turn when I fell ill in early 2023, necessitating surgery and a prolonged period of recovery. This unforeseen hiatus tested my resolve and time management skills. I had to reacquaint myself with my research, recalibrate interviews, and endure the meticulous process of explanation to secure appointments. The sleepless nights became my companions, the silent witnesses to my determination to meet deadlines and fulfill academic obligations.
In hindsight, my master’s education journey has been a mosaic of self-discovery, personal growth, resilience, and determination. It began with the seeds of inspiration sown during my time as a journalist covering international affairs and grew into a deep-rooted passion for International Relations and diplomacy. Each challenge, from framing my research topic to navigating the intricacies of academic rigor, has sculpted me into a more tenacious, adaptable, and insightful individual. As I approach the completion of my master’s degree, I am not only equipped with academic knowledge but also a profound appreciation for the power of resilience and the importance of following one’s passions.
Lynace Mwashighadi is a seasoned Media and Communication Expert who has special interest in International Relations and Public affairs. Lynace who has a profound understanding of the industry is based in Nairobi, Kenya. She has carved a niche for herself as an accomplished Broadcast Journalist with over 13 years of experience, having worked for BBC and KBC. Lynace holds a Master’s in International relations with a focus on Foreign Policy and Diplomacy from the United States International University – Africa and a Bachelor of Science in Communication and Public Relations from Moi University.