Daniel Mutanda: BSc Psychology 2016-2019; Research and Development Assistant for Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
“My time at the University of Winchester has been at the foundation of my academic career. All that I have achieved in my professional life stems from my time at the University – being a part of the Winton Club (the University's Alumni Association) will always stay with me!”
Daniel Mutanda came to the University of Winchester as one of our Sanctuary Award students to study for a degree in Psychology. The University, which was the first University of Sanctuary in the South of England, enables students like Daniel who may be asylum seekers, refugees or forced migrants to a tuition fee waiver and bursary to support their studies and aspiration for higher education.
“I came to the UK when I was four years old and a few years later received ‘Discretionary Leave to Remain’ status. Despite some of the challenges I have faced, I’m a really big believer of sharing my success – it shows that success is possible for anyone, regardless of their background.”
After receiving a 2:1 BSc Psychology degree in 2019, Daniel immediately undertook a Masters in Public Health at the University of Warwick. He completed his Masters in 2020, receiving a distinction overall. His decision to undertake Masters study relates to his passion for supporting individuals from similar backgrounds, exemplified by the extracurricular activities Daniel was a part of whilst a student at Winchester.
“My decision to attend Warwick was informed by the fact that they are also one of the first universities to receive Sanctuary status. My Masters dissertation stemmed from my background where I undertook research on how forced migrant mental health is measured in negative and positive domains. This really shifted the focus by looking at mental wellbeing rather than understanding mental health from a negative point of view.”
“Through my research, I’ve been able to network with leaders in the field of Public Health, growing my competencies in this area as a researcher and looking more broadly with what is happening in the wider world.”
All of this helped Daniel gain his current position as a Research and Development Assistant for NHS Sussex Partnership. He started this role in February 2021 where he will be contributing to one of the Trust’s research projects which focuses on Clinical Psychology.
“I’ll be responsible for assisting with study design and analysis on projects across the research and development department. I’ll work on research topics including psychosis, OCD and depression. I’m definitely seeing this role as a stepping stone into getting onto a doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology, as most of these programmes require students to have clinical experience, so this one-year post is a great opportunity for me!”
It’s fair to say that Daniel was engaged in many extracurricular activities whilst being a student. This taught Daniel many skills and enabled him to make a lot of impact both within Winchester and the wider community. In turn, this has equipped Daniel with appropriate skills as a graduate.
“I’ve always juggled education with academic engagement opportunities, volunteering and doing part-time work. For example, I was a Student Ambassador where I often assisted with residentials on campus for asylum-seeking children and young people. My experience as a Sanctuary Scholar has also enabled me to connect with and influence many other universities who are seeking to promote equal opportunities for students just like me. For example, I keynoted a national conference sharing my experiences. This has allowed me to use my voice to enact change across the country.”
“Whilst this was at times difficult to manage, being engaged in this kind of work has really shaped my character and spearheaded my ambitions. It’s also provided me with so many transferable skills that have directly fed into my research career.”
Whilst Daniel thoroughly enjoyed his time as a student at the University, he struggled with the lack of representation that was available to him. Integrating into the University was also a little difficult for Daniel which highlights how we as a university community are always on a journey to becoming more inclusive.
“Representation wasn’t always there for me. For example, I was the only black male student in my entire faculty during my graduation ceremony. I also found it a little difficult to relate to my peers. I couldn’t socially join in with the Basketball team because of issues surrounding expenses. I played for the team, but it was difficult to get fully involved – it’s hard to explain why you might not be entitled to the same things as other students being a Sanctuary student.”
However, some of Daniel’s best and most developmental memories are from his time at Winchester.
“One thing I really appreciated was taking an optional Values Studies module in my third year. It really got me to think in an interdisciplinary way and consider different perspectives. This really helped when I was reading for my Masters and eventually achieve my distinction!”
“The best part of my Winchester experience was being invited to a special lunch with my fellow Sanctuary Award students along with the University’s senior management team. This was part of the celebration event which recognised Winchester as a University of Sanctuary. Telling my story to different staff members and meeting representatives from the City of Sanctuary really solidified my passion for ensuring social justice and equity for all students."
Daniel is looking forward to continuing his journey into Clinical Psychology, with an ultimate aim of becoming a Public Health Specialty Registrar in the distant future. He relays the below message for fellow Psychology students:
“There are so many different routes you can take with a Psychology degree and so much I gained from my experiences. For example, I was using direct information from my undergraduate degree when being invited to interviews. I still receive a lot of support from the University and am still in contact with staff members. The University is definitely still on hand for any guidance even after graduating so get in touch if you need to.”Back to alumni