University Dean masters communications

04 December 2014

John Edwards

Dr Mike Okolo graduates in strategic communication

Having a full-time job and living thousands of miles away has not stopped a Nigerian academic from graduating from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

Dr Mike Okolo made his final trip to Preston this week as he celebrated the award of his MA in Strategic Communication at Preston’s Guild Hall.

Based in Lagos, Dr Okolo is Acting Dean of the School of Media and Communication at the Pan-Atlantic University, one of UCLan’s partner institutions. He combined the demands of his career with online weekly lectures as well making the 6,000 mile round trip from Lagos to Preston twice a year for residential study sessions. After what proved to be a hectic two years, the 53-year-old was delighted to be graduating.

“I’m excited because I never thought this day would come,” he said.

“The course was rigorous and I kept looking forward to finishing. That’s why I had to come all the way to England to celebrate.”

When he decided to return to study, Dr Okolo was keen to find a programme which would allow him to study alongside his career. UCLan’s blended learning programme appealed to him, but the decision to take this route brought its own challenges. Fortunately he was supported by his colleagues and his wife, who was in attendance at the ceremony.

Reflecting on the experience, he said: “I found studying very stressful and I had a lot of sleepless nights. But I brought them on myself because I didn’t manage my time very well so I had a lot of work to do near to my deadlines. My colleagues were very supportive and without them it would have been more challenging.

“The good thing was after my online classes I could go into the classroom and apply the theory to my teaching. When you combine studying with working it is easy to bring your theory into practice.”

Dr Okolo was also keen to look at communications from a global perspective which is why, despite the travel commitments, he enjoyed UCLan’s residential study sessions.

He said: “The contact days were good because they gave me a chance to look at my course globally. When you have people from different parts of the world exchanging ideas it’s exciting. One of the things I wanted was to have that global exposure and I got that from networking with my fellow students.”

With his master’s complete, Dr Okolo is now hoping to use his degree as a platform for further study.

He added: “When you are studying it is tedious and you want to finish and get your degree. But now I’ve achieved that I am yearning for more and I want to see if I can study for a doctorate. I’ll continue to lecture, but I want to specialise in internal communications.”