Profile: Current Collaborative African Studies and English M.A. Graduate Student, Alana Dunbar, graduated in 2014 with an African Studies and English Combined Honours. While studying at Carleton and gaining African-related experience in Canada, Alana began travelling to Africa for research studies in Southern Africa in 2011, and then made the leap of a one-year study abroad commitment in Tanzania at the largest university. Dunbar finished her studies in Canada and has found job opportunities abound because of her vast pool of knowledge from her time at Carleton in different disciplines with different styles of learning, researching and writing. Presently, Dunbar is living in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania working as the Creative Project Manager at an Events, Design and Communications consultancy company. Primarily working with major NGO clients in sexual, reproductive and maternal health and corporate clients in the fast growing East Africa economy. This is after 2 years of living in Tanzania; beginning while she studied and researched and then worked at an emerging magazine as a Feature Editor and Marketing Specialist within the Tanzanian market. Eager to continue her studies at Carleton, Dunbar begins her M.A. in January with the intention of returning to Africa for future specialized work based on her research!
Review: I cannot recommend the African Studies Combined Honours program more highly! When I was entering university I wanted to study something that would captivate me and I would learn specialized knowledge at Carleton! I began initially studying Journalism combined with African Studies and later switched to English Literature and African Studies. The interdisciplinary nature of the African Studies program gave me insight into so many new fields of research and I got to take courses in each department on campus giving me the most well rounded university education. Learning from so many different professors and different styles of teaching in different academic disciplines prepared me so well for what was to come next; the real world of professionals!
During my time I was lucky to take advantage of the one-on-one mentorship style of the program, where I was not just another number in the system. The Institute of African Studies gives you one-on-one attention with where your degree is taking you. This includes personal mentorship and advisement on all academic aspects! I worked with three key African-specialists and this gave me the feeling of on-campus support!
I was also supported and encouraged to take part in many study-abroad and exciting specialized elements of the African Studies Program that are offered. In my second year I participated in AFRI 3100 course in Durban, South Africa at UKZN studying Health and Healthcare in Post-Apartheid. In my third year, I took part in an incredible research-based course between Carleton, Freetown and Dar es Salaam discussing Harassment and Gender-based Violence at Higher Educational Institutions. My fourth year was spent studying full-time at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and through Students for Development; I assisted a professor with her courses in Gender and Sexuality. In my fifth year I participated in an Ontario Grant Program allowing me to participate in an entrepreneurial internship, again in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Overall, there are so many exciting opportunities for hands-on research and experience in Africa in collaboration with the Institute of African Studies, meaning you come out with relevant real world experience. One notable aspect of studying Africa is the current growing relevance, as Africa hosts most of the fastest growing markets in the world and in the next 50 years, the African continent will host the largest workforce in the world; Africa is a hot topic and an interesting field of study!
I know one major concern for many new students and their parents entering a Bachelor of Arts Program is that they will come out with a lot of theoretical knowledge, and not a lot of hands-on learning or applicable experience to life or career opportunities. This is one thing that the African Studies Combined Honours Program ensures will not happen; students come out with a specialty in 2 different fields that creates a diverse education that can be directly applied to so many careers. Additionally, luckily for these African Studies students, they actually enjoy every moment of being in the program because of this diversity of learning!