Monday, 15 July 2013

Experiences of a CARTA fellow - Sunday Adedini

My name is Sunday Adedini, a Lecturer in the Department of Demography and Social Statistics, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria. I have B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in demography from Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria. I am currently undergoing doctoral training in Demography and Population Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. My broad research focus is on the area of child health, reproductive health and mortality studies; with particular interest in social and health inequalities as well as the effects of neighborhood contexts on health metrix. Area of expertise includes data collection and analysis with the use of statistical software such as Stata, SPSS, Epi Info, MortPark and Excel.  Although, there are other PhD fellowship programs, I chose to apply for the CARTA PhD Fellowship for a number of reasons. First, when the call for CARTA PhD Fellowship for cohort 1 was announced in 2010, the requirements for the Fellowship really made me felt that the Fellowship is designed particularly for a person like me. These requirements include:
i) a possession of Masters degree in a relevant field,
ii) applicants must be willing to undertake PhD research in the area of population and public health,
iii) eligible applicants must be teaching or research staff in one of the nine participating universities or in one of the four participating research institutes, and
iv) eligible applicant must undergo his/her doctoral training at one of the nine participating universities in Africa.
I saw myself as a candidate for whom the CARTA Fellowship has been designed, particularly because I teach at the Obafemi Awolowo University and, by then my M.Sc. results had just been approved and I was seeking admission into the University of the Witwatersrand to pursue a PhD degree in Demography and Population Studies. This really gave me the impetus to undergo the rigorous pre-JAS competence tasks, which I benefited immensely from. Second, I preferred CARTA Fellowship to other PhD Fellowships because the components of the CARTA program include exposing students to important didactic seminars to build fellows’ conceptual, methodological and analytical skills. Third, the CARTA program encourages and creates atmosphere for collaborations among Fellows. Additionally, the CARTA program provides financial supports for Fellows. For this reason I chose to be a full time student and I managed the resources available to me.
CARTA’s aims include training and retention of well-equipped scholars who could build capacity at African universities. My hope and aspirations include working towards realizing this objective by contributing my own quota towards building capacity at my home institution. Besides, it is my dream to contribute my own small quota towards solving many developmental problems facing sub-Saharan Africa in general and Nigeria in particular, through collaborative policy-relevant and innovative researches in the area of population and public health.

With respect to progress made in my on-going PhD studies, my proposal was approved by the Faculty’s Graduate Studies Committee during the first year of my studies. The second year of my program was devoted to data managements and analyses. Some preliminary findings from my studies have been presented in a number of conferences. These include African Population Conference of the Union for Africa Population Studies (UAPS), annual meeting of the Population Association of America (PAA) and Asian Population Conference of the Asian Population Association (APA). In addition, three abstracts based on my PhD studies have been accepted for presentations (two for oral and the other one for postal) at the forthcoming International Population Conference of the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population. Also, three manuscripts based on my PhD thesis are currently under review in three different ISI listed journals.
This PhD program has not been without its sacrifices and hitches. The first sacrifice involves being away from my family for so long. This of course afforded me the opportunity of having full concentration on my studies. I have been a triangular student, commuting in-between three places – room, classroom and church. I did not create time for much social activities. This is deliberate because I know once I finish my PhD studies; there will always be time for social activities. The second hitch I encountered concerns my health. This is because I overworked myself and my average sleeping time per day reduced drastically. This affected me a bit during the first year of my studies. I remember that sometimes around August 2011, I could not close my eyes in sleep for good four days. When I consulted with my doctor, I was told that I had been denying myself enough sleep, so the body was getting used to sleeplessness. The doctor was afraid that I must have developed high blood pressure (BP) considering that I did not sleep at all for complete four days. After medical examination, the doctor eventually found that my BP was normal. After this episode I had to increase my average sleeping time to around 5 hours per day.

Additional useful information is that, in the course of my studies, I discovered that developing excellent working relationship with supervisors is crucial to successful completion of PhD studies. Having understanding early enough that supervisors’ criticisms are not meant to mar but to make one successful is  key to success of a PhD program. From time to time I receive constructive criticisms, appropriate and prompt feedback from my supervisor. I also have the opportunity of promptly attending to supervisor’s comments.

Finally, with the help of God, I know that as I continue to do my parts with enthusiasm and all seriousness, my supervisor will do his parts, and it will be a matter of little more time when I will be done with my PhD studies.

1 comment: