The gift of personal and professional growth
Ariba Fatima (LLB 2022) tells us how taking part in the Phelan US Centre Undergraduate Research Assistantship programme enhanced her LSE experience and helped her gain important life skills before graduating.
I’ve always had a passion for advocacy. I did a lot of debating in high school, and this helped me develop skills that are extremely relevant to a law degree such as public speaking, research skills and, most importantly, the ability to argue on different sides of an issue. That really sparked my interest in a legal career. I wanted to have a career where I could make a positive impact, and law gives you the opportunity improve people's lives and champion causes for social good.
As a student, I was determined to make the most of the learning opportunities that LSE offers outside of the classroom. I was actively looking for research assistant opportunities because they give you the chance to deep dive into areas and subjects that are quite niche, and that are often not explored in much detail in class.
I finally found the Phelan US Centre Undergraduate Research Assistantship programme and joined during my last year. The research I did was quite historical, focused on the trial of those convicted of a US-led plot to invade Dominica between 1980 and 1983. The topic was extremely specific, but it brings together a lot of disciplines – sociology, law, history – so, academically, it was very interesting.
I really enjoyed the working culture of the Centre. I found everyone extremely welcoming and I learned so much from the faculty I worked with.
Observing Dr Umoren’s work and listening to her explaining exactly what she wanted to get out of her research was an eye-opening experience. And feeling connected to a wider research project was very exciting as well.
Participating in the Undergraduate Research Assistantship programme has helped me grow, both personally and professionally. It’s helped me to better craft my research and writing skills, and made me more confident. I was given complete autonomy and flexibility in terms of formatting and deadlines for the research reports I had to submit, so I needed to be proactive and take charge of my work. The fact that they put that level of trust in me gave me courage, and led to better quality work because I was fully accountable for it.
The time I’ve spent at LSE has definitely shaped my life. It’s taught me that being ambitious is equally as important as being hard working or talented. The School can be a competitive environment where everybody is at the top of their game, but I found that to be encouraging.
The time I’ve spent at LSE has definitely shaped my life. It’s taught me that being ambitious is equally as important as being hard working or talented. The School can be a competitive environment where everybody is at the top of their game, but I found that to be encouraging. It really pushed me to think about what I wanted to do, and to take those necessary steps to fulfil my aspirations. It’s also taught me to be more open-minded and see things from different perspectives.
I plan to pursue a career at the bar, and I’ve just been awarded a Lord Marchant Scholarship from the Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn that will cover the cost of my Bar Course studies. I am particularly interested in human rights law, which includes public law, criminal law and international law. I also hope I’ll be able to complete a master’s of law in the future.