Thanks to a formative experience in India many years ago, Kirsten Hyde decided to pursue her dream career working closely with refugees. “I spent several months as a volunteer working with Tibetan refugees in Dharamsala many years ago,” she says. “It sparked a strong interest in the rights of refugees, and it’s something I’ve always wanted to take further.”
After working as a journalist in the financial markets, Kirsten decided to take the plunge and make the career move she had always wanted. “I began to look at university courses that could help me into the career I wanted, and LSBU’s MSc Refugee Studies immediately stood out,” she says.
“I was intrigued by the focus on human rights law, refugee law and forced migration issues, but also by the wealth of experience of the lecturers,” adds Kirsten. “In particular, the chance to learn from Professor Gaim Kibreab, a recognised authority in the field, was very exciting.”
Quality of the course
As a London resident with a young son, Kirsten was keen to study somewhere close to home, so our location – coupled with the quality of the course – persuaded her that LSBU was the place for her.
“I’m pleased I made that decision,” says Kirsten. “The course lived up to all my expectations with lively and engaging lectures and seminars. It was a really interactive way to learn and the support I received from my lecturers was instrumental in deepening my understanding and knowledge of the subject.”
Flexible and supportive
Kirsten’s learning was helped by our flexible and supportive approach, too. “As the mother of a two-year-old son, fitting my studies in could have been difficult,” she admits. “However, the timetable enabled me to achieve a good balance, which was very important to me.”
During her time at LSBU, Kirsten studied alongside people from all walks of life, an experience she values greatly. “There’s such a diverse mix of students at LSBU,” she says. “I made friends from all around the world, and learned a lot about their countries, beliefs and cultures.”
Despite starting her career as ‘a complete novice with no prior experience in the field of human rights’, Kirsten was employed by a leading specialist charity for an EU-funded project – a journey that she completed in less than a year.
“The job was at the AIRE Centre, a London-based human rights charity that provides legal advice to marginalised individuals, those in vulnerable circumstances, and lawyers and advisers in the voluntary sector,” she says. “I loved it. The main aim of the project I worked on was to identify and build a national network of first points of contact organisations and provide each organisation with the tools and training to act as a ‘safe point’ for victims of domestic and gender-based violence.”
It was a very rewarding job that involved Kirsten liaising with organisations from a variety of sectors – healthcare, education, local government and charities and NGOs. “The teams involved in the project – The AIRE Centre representing the UK, and partner organisations in Slovenia, Croatia and Bulgaria - also devised a social media and general public awareness campaign to promote the network and project,” she says. “It was a varied role where no two days were the same, and I loved working in a busy legal casework setting with dedicated and talented staff, for an organisation that is well regarded and respected.”
Achieving her goals
As she looks to the future, Kirsten hopes that she will be able to immerse herself fully in the human rights sector. “Within five years, I want to be using the skills and experience I gained as a journalist in tandem with my Master’s degree to promote awareness of, and campaign for, causes relating to asylum seekers, refugees and survivors of torture,” she says. “My degree will certainly help me to get there. LSBU has given me the knowledge I need to achieve my goals.”