What you did next
Here we explore the interesting locations and careers that our alumni have found themselves in.
If you’d like to share your experiences, we’d love to hear from you:
Chikumbutso Clara Mpanga-Munthali
MSc in Surgical Sciences (2014)
I was born in 1983 in Blantyre, Malawi. I was chosen to visit the University of Oxford as an elective student in 2007 for six weeks. I finished my Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery degree with Malawi College of Medicine in 2008. I chose the University of Edinburgh because it was willing to admit online students on the programme with funding from Johnson and Johnson, and because it is a well-known, reputable university.
The study format was very engaging and the smaller groups encouraged every individual to participate and acquire the necessary knowledge on the topic, irrespective of the resources available in each country.
At the same time during my studies at Edinburgh, I was pursuing a Master of Medicine in Trauma and Orthopaedics with the University of Malawi. I also attended several courses including an Advanced Trauma Life Support course, basic surgical skills and sciences courses as well as an AOTrauma course – Basic Principles of Fracture Management. I had the chance to visit Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford on observership as a Fellow for the British Association for Foot and Ankle Surgery in 2014.
I obtained my MSc in Surgical Sciences from Edinburgh in 2014, becoming the first female Malawian graduate of the programme. I still keep in contact with the programme coordinator. I finished my Master of Medicine in Trauma and Orthopaedics in 2017 and I am now working as an orthopaedic consultant at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, which is the biggest referral hospital in Malawi. I have a special interest in trauma surgery, trauma research and medical education.
I get satisfied when I see people smiling upon being operated and heading home. But the most challenging thing about my work is that there are people we cannot perform surgery on due to time and resource constraints, and the number of neglected trauma cases due to the low number of orthopaedic surgeons in our country.
Currently, I sit on the Board of Women in Surgery in Africa, which is an independent body established in 2015 for female surgeons, surgical trainees and women who may be interested in pursuing a career in surgical training in countries under the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa. I am also an advocate for girls’ education.
BA (Hons) in Fashion (2013)
The Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) fashion programme offers complete training in the full design process, right from the initial concept to the final result, through all its various stages.
I have great memories of my time at ECA, such as the encouragement and praise I got for my tailoring project during my third year of study. The fashion show was particularly exciting. The hustle and bustle and nice summer weather made it memorable. We were a year group of extremely talented but eccentric individuals which made it so much fun.
The programme and tutoring at ECA opened my eyes to wider issues in the fashion industry at that time, such as a lack of diversity. We were encouraged to illustrate using real world body proportions rather than the exaggerated fashion figures used in the fashion world. This helped me to stay grounded and real. As a designer I make sure I am designing and making something which is contributing to the world in a positive way.
I started an ethical clothing label for men called Cloh. I was struggling to find any clothes to lounge and chill in that were also beautiful and high end. So, I decided to design and make clothes that, if they didn’t sell well, I could wear myself. I want my garments to relieve stress and make the wearer feel peaceful and comfortable.
Everything is handmade in Glasgow. Throughout the design process, every inch of available fabric is used to reduce wastage. Cloh’s mission is to minimise the negative impact the fast fashion industry has upon the environment, so it was a real highlight to be mentioned by journalist Lucy Siegle in her Ethical Living Column for the Guardian.
PhD in Geochemistry (2009)
I was very excited when I received an offer to study for my PhD at Edinburgh. I’d been recommended Professor Godfrey Fitton in the School of GeoSciences as a supervisor. I must thank him for guiding me so well through my research, as well as teaching me a thing or two about off-road driving when we went to Iceland to complete fieldwork.
In my research job at The Open University that followed on from my Edinburgh graduation, I shifted my research focus. Instead of analysing volcanic rocks from Earth, I began to analyse meteorites and other rock samples collected by space missions to comets and asteroids.
A few years into my new research position I applied to the BBC to attend a course aiming to train women to appear as experts in the media. Since then, and through the many media contacts I met at the time, I’ve managed to regularly work as a science expert. I even fulfilled my secret lifelong ambition to appear on the BBC Breakfast red sofa where I was interviewed about the famous Rosetta space mission that landed on a comet in 2014.
Without my PhD I’m certain that I wouldn’t be where I am today. I’ve just completed my first popular science book, Catching Stardust, about comets and asteroids, and have signed a commission for a second book, Fire and Ice, about space volcanoes.
I’ve no idea where the rest of my career will take me, having moved from volcanologist to laboratory manager/ space scientist, to author/science communicator. However, I know that I have to thank Edinburgh for being one of the key factors that set me on this fascinating course in life.