Our graduates Edna Ayeley Okine, LLM International Law and Sustainable Development

Edna Ayeley Okine Law Graduate

Tell us a bit about your background…
I am a Ghanaian from the Greater Accra Region which is the capital of Ghana and the home of my tribe -the Ga(s). I finished my secondary education in Accra and studied a Bachelor of Arts degree at the Ghana Institute of Journalism where I specialised in public relations. I worked in PR for a while and later moved to Glasgow to study a Bachelor of laws degree (Graduate entrant) and Master of Laws degree at Strathclyde.

What inspired you to further your studies?
I had always wanted to make practical contributions in the areas of academia and integrated development. Furthering my studies was therefore a way for me to realise my dreams. I found that Strathclyde’s LLM in IL&SD specifically offered an avenue to get both theoretical and practical knowledge and opportunities in my interest areas.

You studied in the UK on an entrepreneurial visa, why was this, and how did you find this process?
After earning my master’s degree, I was looking to gain work experience especially in project management before going on to study for my PhD. I found that I could do just that when I realised the number of end-of-term waste accrued by Strathclyde students and other further higher education students in Glasgow was a problem. In addition, most incoming international and local students each year spend a lot on these same items thrown out. So, rising from my studies on sustainable practices and having benefited from Strathclyde’s Enterprise Pathway programme a colleague and I thought about a project that sought to reduce the environmental waste and help students save money by starting a student re-use shop (Cosy Students). We pitched our idea to Strathclyde’s Enterprise hub panel under the Graduate entrepreneurial Visa scheme and got a visa endorsement for a year. We also collaborated and got assistance from Strathclyde’s Student Union, Sustainability Team, International Students Advice Centre and Student accommodation centre. We registered the project as a business and it became an environmental success. The shop helped save more than 3000kg worth of carbon in its first year alone. A lot of students especially international and Erasmus students benefited immensely by having one place where they shopped for most of the items needed for their flats and saved money as well. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a second year endorsement due to the monetary requirement of the visa and had to leave the UK and abandon the project which was quiet disheartening.

Why did you choose to study for the LLM?
I chose to study the LLM because, apart from my desire to further my studies, I wanted to specifically undertake Strathclyde’s LLM in International Law and Sustainable development programme. The courses taught in the programme where within my interest areas especially environmental, trade and climate justice laws. The programme also offered a flexibility which allowed me to study courses from different departments including engineering and public policy which supplemented my law courses wonderfully.  Because of this, I was able to tailor my education around my interests and career goals which I found to be advantageous. The LLM also offered an option for field research in collaboration with Challenges Worldwide, which I participated in. I was able to do fieldwork in Uganda and Ghana.

What was the highlight of your time at Strathclyde?
I had many highlights during my time at Strathclyde. One of them was when I participated in Strathclyde Centre for Environmental law and Governance’s Climate and Sustainability Project 2015/2016. I worked in a team of five students and got to research case studies on implementation measures of the SDGs. We presented our research at the 1st Tarragona Colloquium in Spain, organised a workshop for our research and got published! Another highlight was my field research in northern Uganda and Ghana. The best highlight, was when we opened the Cosy Students Shop and got make environmental and social impacts.

Did you come across any challenges during your studies, and how did you overcome them?
The biggest challenge for me was financial, as I was an international fee paying student and it was a bit challenging supporting myself. I overcame this to some extent by working part time jobs, however that was also challenging and a bit detrimental to my studies. I later found out about the international students hardship fund after my studies though.

What would be your advice for people considering taking this course?
I would advise that they take the course as it offers both theoretical and practical opportunities. I will also advice that they take advantage of the various extra curriculum opportunities offered by various centres at Strathclyde especially the Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law and Governance. It will be a great addition to their degree and help give them useful experiences.

What do you think of the support available (supervisors, tutors, professional services etc)?
From my experience, my tutors were leading academics in their fields, very professional and approachable. I had one of the best supervisors who was very supportive throughout my dissertation and continues to assist me even after my degree. I also benefited a lot from the international student’s advice centre who helped in in visa applications, the Student Union and the Strathclyde Sustainability Team.

What are your ambitions for the near future?
I aim to be a leader in Lecturing and Research in development studies, law and policy, so I will be furthering my studies by studying for my PhD. I hopefully want to return to Strathclyde for this and take up the re-use shop again.