Dr Naomi Masheti, Coordinator, Cork Migrant Centre
To mark the end of another very successful Refugee Week at UCC, we shine our alumni spotlight on Dr. Naomi Masheti of Cork Migrant Centre. Originally from Kenya, Dr. Masheti has been living in Cork since 2001 and qualified with a PhD from UCC in 2015.
Her work with the Cork Migrant Centre involves supporting migrant mothers through initiatives such as mental health workshops, parenting classes, mother and baby groups and activities for older children such as art, music and dancing. She has recently helped launch a culturally sensitive parenting programme for migrant parents in conjunction with Dundalk Institute of Technology and parents living in direct provision in Cork.
Course/subjects studied in UCC and year of graduation
Studied BA Applied Psychology and graduated in 2007. Proceeded to do an MA in Forensic Psychology, graduating in 2008 and stayed on to do a PhD specialising in the Psychosocial Wellbeing of Sub-Saharan African Migrant Children graduating in 2015.
Best memory of University College Cork
Difficult to pick a best memory of UCC because it has always felt like home to me. I have great memories but one that sticks out is this one moment soon after finishing my undergraduate. I was going to the main campus from the School of Psychology, and I remember walking over the bridge – just after the main gates from the Western Road entrance, and it occurred to me that I was finished with my studies and therefore with UCC. At that moment I had a gush of emotions, real sadness and I shed tears. It was a sheer feeling of loss. That I was leaving ‘my home’. It was no wonder that I went on to spend another 8 years in UCC and to an extent I have really never left UCC.
How has your time at UCC helped you to get to where you are now?
My work with migrant community in Cork is as a direct result of my PhD research at UCC which had a great focus on Cross-Cultural Psychology. The depth and knowledge that I gained during this period as well as skills such as planning, organisation, communication, critical assessment and problem-solving have all had an enriching impact on my work. In the context of a culturally diverse Ireland and the need for culturally sensitive services, as part of my PhD work, I explored best practices in non-western countries such as Psychosocial model of health and ways in which models from migrant-sending countries can be applied in western settings such as Ireland when working with these cultural groups. Establishing a Psychosocial Centre at the Cork Migrant Centre (CMC), Nano Nagle Place was just a natural progression of my PhD work.
My connection with UCC still plays a critical role in my work. I have formed collaborations with Dr. Angela Veale, from the School of Applied Psychology, and the UCC Netsoc Society. I have also had and continue to have great support in designing and shaping my work from Dr. Jacqui O’Riordan from Applied Social Studies, Michael Fitzgibbon from Food Business & Development, Dr. Angela Veale from Applied Psychology and Dr. Karl Kitching, the Director of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion unit. 90% of our volunteers for the programmes are UCC students channelled through the (UCC) STAR (Student Action for Refugees) Society. No doubt UCC will have a great positive impact in making CMC a centre of excellence.
What is your advice to current UCC students?
My advice would be to follow your dream or your vision. Equip yourself with a degree alright but aim to widen your horizon. Join clubs, societies, Erasmus Plus programmes to experience other cultures, volunteer home and abroad. This is the soil that nurtures your dream, vision or career.
What person/people at UCC had the most positive influence on you?
My PhD supervisor and friend and mentor Dr Angela Veale. She has huge experience in psychosocial research, is passionate about her work with migrant communities and/or communities in developing settings. Her work philosophy of utilising participatory methods which acknowledges the expertise and experience of communities of interest has had a huge influence on my work.
Were you involved in any Clubs or Societies?
I went to college as a mature student with three school going children including an 8-month-old baby when I started. My hands were really full.