Marcell Mapp

BSc International Disaster Management and Humanitarian Response, 2018-2021.

What inspired you to study this course?

I actually ended up finding this degree quite last minute! I was studying public services at college, hoping to be a firefighter afterwards, and I discussed with my course advisor that I wanted a career more broadly helping people. They told me about HCRI, so I went to an open day and met some of the academics, who were all really nice. There's a similar course in Coventry where I'm from that's been around a lot longer than this one, but I wanted to venture somewhere new, and Manchester is probably the best place I could have picked.

How did you initially find studying at HCRI?

I'm not the most academic person so first year was a big step up for me but there are resources available to help you, and the lecturers within HCRI are probably some of the most attentive, compassionate and understanding lecturers in the whole university, so you can always talk to them if you're struggling. In first year, my student voice wasn't really that loud and then throughout my degree I've had more confidence and got more involved with things in the Uni and outside the Uni too.

Can you give an example of what you've been involved with?

I ventured into volunteering in first year, at a homeless shelter around Christmas, and then last Summer (2020) when Black Lives Matter came onto the scene, I helped lead peaceful protests in my hometown with my friends with over 2,000 people attending. We went on to form Revolution West Midlands (read more about this here) to try and encourage more open discussions about racism, and to educate more people. This opened up new opportunities, such as running an anti-racism workshop with HCRI for students and staff where we discussed topics like institutional racism, and going into schools to speak about my degree and experience with young black students. I'm also working on a TED Talk which is exciting.

What have been your favourite modules?

Everyday Peace Building with Dr Catherine Arthur was good, as I'm really interested in disasters and development, and we looked at geopolitics and the different factors that contribute to a disaster. Another module that I really enjoyed was the Professional Experience Project because I got to work with a disaster response organization called Re:Act Disaster Response (formerly called Team Rubicon). For the project, myself and two other students were tasked with designing a disaster risk strategy to be implemented in Malawi: we did the background research, came up with the idea for a community centre, and had the opportunity to go to their headquarters in Salisbury and present it to them, which was really fun. They've offered me a six-month internship after graduation, so the course can really help you connect with organisations and individuals within the sector, if you choose to.

Any final comments or advice for future students?

University is like a wave that goes up and down; it's not going to be a great day every day, there'll probably be days you want to drop out but you've got to just stick with it and look at it in the grand scheme of things. Think about exactly what you want to achieve now, and in the future, and just make the most of all the opportunities that you'll get from HCRI and the UoM.