Nadin Eluemunor is an international student studying MA International Relations in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. She shares one of her stories on the power of saying YES! to help you thrive as a student.

As international students, we concentrate so much on excelling in our studies that we sometimes fail to take advantage of non-academic opportunities shared by our tutors and professors or advertised in the monthly international student newsletters. This was the case for me initially. While not a wrong approach, missing out on great opportunities is easy. I started to say “YES” to opportunities and now want to share the benefits to my learning experience as an international student. 

Saying YES! to opportunities

This opportunity arose last year when one of my course professors, Dr Tonny Kirabira, invited me to attend a Women in Security networking event organised by Dr Melita Lazell and my tutor, Dr Patricia Shamai. I attended and met Soraya Harding, a Senior Lecturer in Cybersecurity Intelligence and Digital Forensics. Soraya invited me to a Cyber 9/12 coaching session to speak to participating teams about stakeholder mapping from the perspective of an International Relations student. I was happy to share my views on this interesting area. Essentially, I said ‘yes’ to sharing a talent with the group of students.    

UK Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge

Following this, Soraya asked me if I would be interested in joining a team representing the University of Portsmouth to compete in the upcoming UK Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge. The team recently had a member drop-off and was short one member to apply for the competition. She mentioned that the competition would require dedicated time, commitment and presence on critical dates. Humbled and excited, I said YES! Note, this opportunity stemmed from being helpful to fellow students.

The competition required each team to role-play as advisors to the Cabinet Office during a continuously escalating fictional cyber-attack against the UK. This required my team and I to analyse situations, research, brainstorm strategies, and proffer clear policy responses within short periods. This further enhanced my skills in being resourceful, which put the knowledge gained in the classroom into practice. 

The final two-day event, held at the BT Tower in London, immersed me in the inclusivity and diversity of academic backgrounds involved in the competition. It reminded me of the value of having a wide range of disciplines to inform decision-making during a cyber-attack and prevent future ones. 

Participating in this competition as an international student provided room to demonstrate my versatility. There were also various opportunities for learning and networking with industry leaders and participating stakeholders. In addition, the event sponsors and partners had career booths and gave mentoring sessions, which I greatly benefited from since I am at the end of my Master's course and looking for a job is at the top of my agenda. 

A win in more ways than one

Saying YES! led me to participate in a unique competition while representing the University, which was a win for me in more ways than one.  When our team won 2nd place, I was excited on various fronts because I had become empowered in different ways. So winning second place was the icing on the cake! This competition increased my intellectual growth, expanded my network, and enriched my academic journey at the university. As an international student, the competition has also paved the way for an exciting career in cybersecurity, and I look forward to opportunities to contribute to the world of cyber technology.

We all have individual academic goals and priorities, and these can be enhanced by non-academic opportunities. I hope my experience encourages you to draw on your existing talents and knowledge. Please look out for these opportunities when published through the many resource channels available from the University. 

There is also a great pool of resourcefulness embodied through our university tutors, professors, and global engagement department; seek them out and trust me, you will find a group of people willing to support your academic and career growth. Once you identify an opportunity, if you are interested, learn to say YES! Participate, get involved, give your best, and see yourself thrive.