Judyannet is a young African who strongly believes in Africa in all her beauty, diversity, capabilities, resources and peoples. She advocates for development in Africa that centers youth and women. She works with the Network of African Youths for Development (NAYD) in communications as a social media coordinator and editor. At NAYD, Judyannet highlights young community development actors, hosts topical discussions with youth on social media and writes on development-related issues. She holds a BA in sociology and English linguistics, an MA in sociology and has just started a PhD where she will be researching development and gender in Africa. She also enjoys writing verses and short fiction.
How and why did you decide to attend Memorial for your graduate degree?
I chose Memorial for an MA because the Department of Sociology seemed like a good fit to explore graduate work in. After successfully completing the MA I thought I might stay for a PhD since I already had a great foundation here and also great supervisors.
What drew you to explore sociology originally?
I decided to pursue sociology when I started actively volunteering and working with local NGOs in my second year of undergrad back home in Kenya. As someone who was initially inclined to business studies, when I decided to focus on sociology I felt right at home. It is a discipline that gives you the tools to look at society in a different way and inspires you to do something about what you see in society.
Can you tell us a bit about your current research?
I have just completed research exploring ways in which the development community (governments, policy makers, aid agencies) can work with African youth in development in a more meaningful and participatory way. Specifically, my research focused on understanding youth-defined meanings of development as a first step towards meaningful engagement with youth. Under the stellar guidance of Drs. Liam Swiss and Max Liboiron, I have been able to successfully do this study and compile the findings in a white paper that I am sending to policy makers and the youth who took part in my research. The next phase of my research will focus more on development and gender in rural African communities.
A supervisor can be key to the success of any grad student. What does your supervisor Liam Swiss bring to his role as your advisor and mentor?
Dr. Swiss brings his sound expertise in development based on his work as an international development scholar and on his work in the field of development working with major development agencies in the country. His advice on form and methods has also been very helpful in my work. I should also mention I particularly hold his principles on gender equity in high regard. All this has been very insightful for my work as a grad student.
Have you attended any conferences/delivered any papers this year? Can you give details?
Not yet. I am however looking to present the outcomes of my recent research in upcoming conferences.
Are you involved in any organizations on-campus or off? If so, can you explain and detail such involvement?
I work in communications and advocacy with a network of youth interested in development in Africa. We do most of our work online but we also have country representatives on location in Africa. Here in campus I volunteer regularly with Internationalization Office. I am also in the process of bringing other graduate students focusing on development together in a development hub where we can form a community of international development scholars.
What do you like most about being a graduate student at Memorial?
I like that MUN is a pretty laid back university in terms of the location. The multicultural nature of the people is also a great plus. This makes it a good environment for graduate work as well as building networks with different kinds of people. Finally, I like the support that I get from my department and my supervisors. They are always handy with ideas and suggestions. Good people.
What do you hope to do after completing your graduate degree?
I hope that my graduate degree will inform my work in community development in better ways. I intend to continue linking youth-led CBOs and Initiatives in Africa with resources and information as well as doing some research and writing.