Day 13: Cassandra Akinde

2020 is a year that I will never forget fam. I thought 2020 would be the year I got everything I wanted. Now I know that 2020 is the year I appreciate everything I have which is family, friends, well-wishers, and even the haters without whom I would not be challenged to do better.

This is the year I hit my lowest and highest moments in my life. This is the year I had to beg God to guide me on my path because I had reached my physical, mental and emotional limits.

Let’s relive 2020 through my eyes. Shall we?

But first I would like to say a big thank you to Pero for featuring me once again on this incredible series 31 Voices 31 Days. I am grateful to be able to share my story with you all.

Best Moments

This year began on a good note, I had just completed my MSc qualifying exams and began Term 2 with my chosen modules. It was the perfect time to meet people outside my class and interact more with LSHTM students and Chevening Scholars from other schools. I spent more time socializing and having insightful conversations during lunch breaks and after schoolhangouts with different people.

In March, I was selected out of 1500 scholars to attend Royal Tea at the Buckingham Palace with Her Royal Highness Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle where we had a wonderful networking session. That same day, I was able to meet the rest of the Royal Family at the Commonwealth Observation Dayat Westminster Abbey to which I was also invited alongside fellow young leaders.

My highlight of that day was meeting Oluwaseun Ayodeji Osowobi, The Founder of Stand To End Rape (STER) who I have admired for years and who led the Queen of England into the church as the official Commonwealth Flagbearer. It was such a monumental moment for young Nigerian womenand I was so glad I was there to witness it.

Between March and August, I was nominated for several humanitarian awards which I found extremely humbling and gratifying for all the volunteering work I put in last year with my organization The Neo Child Initiative and Medglobe. The one I am most proud of is being listed as one of the 100 most inspiring women in Nigeria by Leading Ladies Africa. It was such a humbling experience for me as I had never thought I would be recognized as such. But my most favourite is when my class Royals XV and TNCI assembled to vote for me aggressively to win African LinkedIn Award for Health.

In June, I was awarded yet again a Chevening VolunteeringAward for recording 100 hours of volunteering in the United Kingdom. This led me to have an online interview with the British High Commissioner alongside my fellow scholar Cyril retelling our volunteering stories.

In July and August, creeping out of lockdown 1.0, I attended a few class hangouts, hiking trips and travelled across the UK with my friends. We had quite a blast and it was a great bonding experience. Before I went on a complete break, I was able to mentor a few volunteers and contribute towards their personal and professional development. I was able to facilitate a few webinars for medical students and healthcare professionals on capacity building and scholarship opportunities.

Finally, in December, I have officially completed my degree Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (DTM&H) and MSc Tropical Medicine and International Health (TMIH)from a world-renowned university London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. I am so psyched!!!

Worst moments

After the COVID-19 pandemic was declared in March, myreal problems began.

My school closed and we had to start virtual online classes, my roommates moved out and I was left all alone to pay the expensive bills of my student accommodation. Although I was collecting a monthly scholarship stipend, I was barely able to pay for my rent, food, and bills. This led me into having serious financial hardship troubles which I am still recovering from. I am poor y`all. But thanks to my loyal Royals XV friends I have been able to get by.

COVID-19 didn`t stop there it also took the lives of my close relatives and that of a colleague. I became extremely anxious about my parents as at that time my mother was sick and had to have surgery which thanks to God went well. I also faced several disappointments with internship positions and fellowship rejections that I applied for and got nada for all my troubles.

Now, this is unrelated to COVID-19 but for the first time in my life, I was dragged on social media for not helping certain Chevening applicants with their essays. I was accused of ignoring “the call of humanity from prospective scholars” on LinkedIn. I was insulted left and right. I was receiving threats and lots of doses of negativity which took its toll on me and my mental health. Social media can be toxic guys so we all need to develop a thick skin. It is not for the weak even if you are minding your business and do not engage in conflicts like I do.

As if it wasn’t enough, I became a victim of sexual harassmentfrom 3 highly intoxicated men who were threatening to teach me a lesson for so-called “disrespect” because I refused torespond to their advances on the street at a bus station. If not for quick thinking and a taxi I would be telling you another story if I had survived sexual assault or if you all heard about my untimely death. This ultimately brought on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which I have been coping with ever since and have been receiving counselling for.

In terms of my academic life, all this had an effect on my dissertation writing which I have been on for almost 6 months now, and had to rewrite an exam I was not happy with. All in all, I am extremely grateful to God, family, and friends for the solid support and the crying shoulder I have received throughout the year. I hope for better times ahead.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a God-filled New Year!!!!

You can connect with me via
IG – @cassieakind
Twitter -@AkindeCassandra

Compliments of the season from Perry’s Tots.🎄

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