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Josie Hornby

Josie Hornby
Year of graduation:

Tanzanian women’s rights 

Geography graduate Josie Hornby has explored women’s rights in Tanzania as part of the Kilimanjaro Environmental Development Association (KEDA) – a grass roots charity researching environmental and social topics in the East African country. She hopes to return to continue the work – and to “hopefully live in a different country every year for the next 10 years”.

Josie is currently working on a Masters degree, after attaining her BSc (Hons) in 2015, but has already travelled to many different countries around the world for her studies. In a subject that touches on almost every aspect of the earth and its inhabitants, Josie has focussed on international development, looking at investment, history and politics – “all aspects in the context of a country’s development”, she explained.

“Geography covers so many different subjects and ties them together. My course at Staffordshire University was holistic, covering everything from history to science, drawing maps to learning about different places, and that was just in the classroom. The physical side was one of the best things.

“Within the first month of starting, the class was taken to a youth hostel in the Peak District, where we got to know each other, visited the local pubs and climbed up Mam Tor near Castleton. We had lots of little trips, did research in Wales and in our third year we went to Barcelona.”

Studying Geography 

Originally from Devon, Josie’s interest in other cultures and places started early. She said: “I was always the kid that begged their mum for a new book. I remember putting a PowerPoint presentation together on the Pyrenees when I was in Year 3. We celebrated different holidays like the Chinese New Year. And then I went to North Devon College to learn more about geography. We travelled to Iceland and that just blew me away. Geography was allowing me to see the world.”

After college, Josie was keen to progress her studies. She continued: “I went round and saw a lot of different universities. I was the first year that would be paying the higher rate of tuition fees and, despite the increased fees, I found a lot of universities didn’t seem to care about their students. I went to a Staffordshire University open day and this gentleman clad in tweed came up to me and started asking me about my aspirations, what I wanted to do, and I knew that I wanted to study there.”

Josie began her studies in 2012, took part in numerous trips, joined the mountaineering society and became a student ambassador. “The geography department felt like a family to me. I did talks on student life when I was an ambassador and I always said going to Staffs was the best decision I ever made. I’m doing my Masters at the University of Sheffield but I’d love to go back to Staffs to do my PhD there.”

Worldwide career

Josie will complete her Masters in September 2016 and hasn’t ruled out returning to Tanzania. “The country and the region I was working in really grabbed me. It was really interesting research, looking at gender bias in the country and women’s rights, and we presented our findings on national Tanzanian news.

“Research is my niche so I’ve been applying for PhDs. I’d love to work in Tanzania for a year or in conflict zones, such as with Médecins Sans Frontières, Doctors Without Borders, which is an NGO devoid of any political or religious affiliations. I can certainly see myself living abroad – I’m happy to call home wherever I am – but I want to be able to go back to Devon and move around a lot. I’m trying to learn as much as I can so I can help people where I can.”