Sheena Aine: My experiences studying for a Masters Degree in International Relations

By Sheena Aine

Hello everyone, my name is Sheena and I have just recently completed a Master of Arts degree in International Relations with a concentration in Development Studies at USIU-Africa. My masters experience was truthfully a mixture of emotions and a roller coaster. I was grateful for the many experiences throughout my academic journey and I was especially grateful and happy with this chosen degree. I was also grateful for the classes and knowledge that was being shared, grateful for the professors that were always open to going the extra mile to make sure that the students really understood the concepts as best as we could. I was also grateful for the constant research projects and reports that pushed us to sit down and actually do the work and not just present mediocre results but instead share research that was thoroughly reviewed and can benefit the class and researcher all together. I was indeed grateful for the diversity in our class with classmates from across the globe.  This helped me to be open to various points of view.

Sheena Aine looking into a brighter future

However, there were times I found myself regretting the degree all together. Just like any course or any journey you’re bound to hit a few bumps along the way. There were times the amount of work that had to be done and the articles that everyone had to go through just kept pilling on and on and although it was rewarding going through the work to come out on the other end having gained something it does get overwhelming from time to time, especially if you are balancing work with education. I worked in the hospitality industry as an events planner, and this was a passion of mine but in this industry the tasks would be demanding in a way where by your working on a clients time especially when it comes to setting up events, some setups could last as little as 2 hours while with other setups you could find yourself leaving the site at 3am and that’s okay but from time to time balancing it with education it can be challenging.

Going into this degree I wasn’t too sure about it; I was still indecisive on whether I wanted to even pursue a masters degree and especially one in International Relations. My undergraduate degree was in International Business. Going into an entirely different discipline was a bit unsettling for me in the sense that I was basically starting fresh. I had no background information and knowledge in IR which made the early days a bit difficult for me. Now that I’m finally done with this degree I can happily say it was absolutely worth it, if anything I only wish I could have done this earlier.

This degree opened up my eyes to an entirely different world. It opened me up to a blend of a variety of educational fields such as economics, history, sociology, diplomacy, and politics. This degree changed my global outlook and I got to understand past and current global issues and affairs and helped me to gain a deep understanding on how nations interact, relate and function.

Throughout this degree I picked a variety of interests that I never would have thought possible to begin with, such as refugee resettlement and how refugees stand to lose so much if there is no sense of accountability and commitment from organizations that promise to lend aid and not fully deliver, this interest pushed me towards the 16th SDG goal for peace, justice and strong institutions and just clarified for me that without a strong institution and accountability backing the agendas of organizations that lend aid, it would all crumble taking us back to the drawing board and leaving the individuals that need this aid in prolonged situations that are not ideal for them.

These interests resonated with my values and beliefs and from a career perspective this degree showed me a path that I felt and continue to feel proud to pursue, to use this degree to understand the problems that affect the world today and have been faced in the international arena for an extensive period of time such as conflict, climate change and more specifically the ever growing refugee crisis and find solutions that can leave a positive impact and a change no matter how small to the world, solutions that promote international cooperation for the betterment of the next person and overall generation.

Granted at first this was an idea and the hope I had on how to use my degree but as time went on, this realization came to fruition, especially when I was undertaking my thesis research on the refugees of Dadaab refugee camp. My study examined how refugees would be impacted should the refugee camps be closed. The research process for my thesis was straining and heavy, I used primary and secondary data . For my primary source of information I used questionnaires, it eased the process of gathering information first hand and I could guide the questions to get the exact information that I wanted but I did rely on secondary data more than primary data because I was not able to visit the Dadaab refugee camp as I had wanted to and by using secondary data a lot more time went into that just to make sure that the source of the information was credible and relatable to my thesis and from my findings it was made clear that Dadaab refugee camp is the biggest refugee camp in Africa and the number of refugees that have put their trust in this camp to take care of them and give them hope for a better life is at an alarmingly high rate that just keeps climbing. Although  the research was very strenuous, it was also necessary because it forced me to look beyond simplified information and expand my research net and evolve the original methods I used to conduct research, something I am thankful for to this day.

But overall my personal masters experience may have started off with an indecisive mind set but the journey was long, tiring, educational, eye opening, and above all rewarding, this degree taught me how to always push forward no matter the circumstances and if I could choose it all over again, I truly would.




Hello, Hello, My name is Sheena Aine, I am a Ugandan born and raised but currently live and work in Kenya. I originally came to Kenya to pursue my Undergraduate and Master’s degree at USIU-Africa and then continued on to work in the hospitality industry as an Events Planner and a Virtual Administrative Assistant and now I’m taking a shift in my career to work with organizations that focus on the social and political issues facing the world and how I can be impactful in eradicating some of these issues and inevitably contributing towards the Sustainable Development Goals for a sustainable way of living.

As for my interests I love to cook, listening to music and watching movies especially based around mythology, I love playing and watching soccer, volunteering and community service, travelling and art, I really enjoy outdoor activities but most of all I enjoy spending time with my loved ones.