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Alison Stretton-Downes

Allum AlissonWhat are you doing now?

I have moved to Johannesburg and I begin my paid role as a Researcher next week.

I have always been interested in working alongside people and pursued avenues where I could do that. I volunteered with a small organisation in Zambia working alongside people affected and infected with HIV before university and this fuelled my passion for work in this field. I chose my BSc and MSc modules, dissertation and thesis topics specifically to develop this area of knowledge and become specialised.  My own research for my dissertation and thesis took me to southern Africa where the impact of HIV is simply hard to avoid. The experience of conducting research in southern Africa in the field of HIV put me in a good position to successfully secure a 6 month volunteer placement with the organisation where I am now employed. I was involved in delivering observational and qualitative research findings to develop innovative approaches to improve access and uptake of HIV services for adolescents in inner city Johannesburg.  This set me in the perfect position to apply for a fulltime paid role within the organisation once my volunteer placement was finished.

What was it about Northumbria that made you decide to study here?

I loved the city of Newcastle because of its proximity to my family home (home was only an hour away), the city wasn't huge and also was close to the beach! I also knew that both my BSc and MSc courses were of excellent reputation and offered me the chance to choose a wide range of really interesting subjects within the parameters of my degree subject.

What was it like studying at Northumbria?

The support from lectures was always amazing - and many of them are now considered colleagues, supporting me even since I have graduated.

What impressed you most about our academic staff?

There enthusiasm for their subject and ability to pass that on to the students.

What was the best thing about your course?

The diversity of the students and the lecturers and sharing those experiences.

Which skills/knowledge did you learn on your course that you use most now throughout your career?

Relating with and working alongside a diverse range of people.

How would you describe yourself in 3 words before coming to Northumbria?

Naïve, excited, wide-eyed

How would you describe yourself in 3 words after completing your first year at Northumbria?

Informed, maturing, enthusiastic

How would you describe yourself in 3 words after you graduated at Northumbria?

Passionate, developing, inspired.

What did you enjoy most about your time at Northumbria University?

The friends I made, the knowledge I gained from thought-provoking lectures/discussions and the self-development that took place over the 4 years.

What advice would you give somebody who is thinking of studying at Northumbria? 

Go for it! Work hard, pursue fun extra activities and opportunities and be a good friend!

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