Queen’s University Belfast: Inspirational Sinead celebrates graduation from Kenya

Sinead, who is originally from Monaghan, returned to study at Queen’s in 2020 after initially completing an MSc in International Development in 2006 and a BSc in Psychology in 2003.

She says: “Going back to study was a welcome break from work and it was great to have the opportunity to do this. Being back on the Queen’s campus was wonderful as there are so many facilities and it’s steeped in history.”

Sinead’s focused her studies on the impact of COVID-19 on sexual violence service provision and service provider well-being. Most of her research was done through Nexus NI, a sexual violence charity in Northern Ireland, which was organised in partnership with the Science Shop at Queen’s.

She comments: “Doing the research and getting to talk to Nexus counsellors directly to understand their experiences and challenges was my favourite part of my studies. I met so many remarkable counsellors who are going above and beyond to maintain services for sexual violence survivors and that was impressive.”

Sinead has now secured a job in Kenya, working in UNICEF’s Regional Office for Eastern and Southern Africa as a Gender-based Violence (GBV) Specialist.

She explains: “I have been working on GBV in humanitarian contexts for nearly 15 years and had previously worked with UNICEF in Iraq and other organisations in the Middle East and Africa.

“Completing my MSc at Queen’s provided me with the opportunity to research and learn more about the psychological impacts of violence, particularly on the development of children, as well as their responses to adversity.

“This definitely helps in my current role where I focus on childhood experience and exposure to violence and the likelihood of experiencing further violence as an adult, especially for women.”

Sinead now plans to spend the next few years settling into her new life and job in Kenya and travelling as much as she can.

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