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Student Spotlight: Cynthia Esiaka

Cynthia Esiaka is one of the four student scholarship winners of the Alumni Association’s ‘Member Madness’ campaign, which awarded $1,000 scholarships to students in need in four different schools chosen by your membership purchases, renewals and donations.

Cynthia is a junior from Asaba, Delta State, Nigeria, majoring in educational psychology and research, and community health.

Cynthia Esiaka

How has COVID impacted you over the last year?

As a self-funded first-generation international student, sourcing for funds to cover my tuition has been the most challenging barrier to realizing my dream of graduating with a PhD, and over the last year COVID-19 has made thing financially worse for me. For instance, it has been difficult for me to secure tuition funding. Over the last year, I have submitted almost a dozen scholarship/job applications (including at my department) but I have yet to receive any success. Without being successful with finding funding, I still do not know how I will continue beyond this semester or I might have to scale down to part-time enrollment since I will be writing my graduate comprehensive exams.

What are your career aspirations?

Starting with my biology education background for bachelor’s degree, I aspired to study education professionally and obtain a PhD as the end goal. I envision a career future in doing policy-driven work to expand educational opportunities for historically marginalized populations. My primary motivation for pursuing my education doctoral degree stems from my professional and career goal of attaining the comprehensive skills and competencies to become a well-rounded and well-equipped Educational Researcher. My decision to study Educational Psychology and focus on youth/adolescent development at the doctorate level will provide me with high-order skills to influence systemic-level changes. Additionally, I plan to work in a post-secondary academic institution either as a professor or researcher or both. My career goal is to conduct research professionally, mentor students, implement interventions, and disseminate research evidence to stimulate youth/adolescent development. As a an academic researcher, I plan to collaborate with governmental and non-governmental agencies to adopt the implementation of evidence-based educational and community development processes systematically.

What has your experience been with the KU Mentoring platform?

During my first year, I signed into the KU alumni mentoring platform to set up my profile and search for potential mentors in my field/areas of work interests. Once I complete my coursework and start seeking internship and career opportunities, I plan to start sending messages to the connections I have made. So far, my KU mentoring platform experience has been through browsing profiles and taking note of potential mentors/career opportunities. Through my explorations, I have found certain degrees that I was previously unaware existed at KU, and I have often done follow-up searches of those career pathways I found on the KU mentoring platform. It is pretty helpful to see all the possible routes I could pursue with my degree and experiences.

Cynthia Esiaka, center left, one of the four winners of a Member Madness Scholarship.

What advice would you give to someone starting KU in the fall?

Explore as many involvement opportunities as possible, join student organizations or student senate on Rock Chalk Central. These experiences provide valuable opportunities to meet new friends and share ideas and resources. Personally, exchanging experiences and information with fellow students during orientation helped me figure out my bearing and options around campus.

Favorite KU Memory or tradition?

My favorite KU tradition is walking down the hill, which I plan to do in May 2023 (all things working out well). However, my favorite KU memory is meeting my partner here as a Jayhawk and getting married on campus to a fellow Jawhawker.

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