Kerisha Stevens didn’t want to leave St Helena to earn a normal university degree – so she stayed home and got an even better one.
She has been awarded a Master of Arts degree by the University of Leicester in the UK, after two years of studying alongside her full-time job as a government press officer.
Her qualification is in Communications, Media and Public Relations.
Her assignments included writing 15,000 words on the topic, Television, the Internet and Young Saints – reflecting technological changes that came to the island much later than the rest of the world.
Kerisha had already scored a distinction in a media diploma course.
She said: “Gaining this degree is my biggest achievement and after two years of intense study it is such a relief to have completed it successfully.”
She often had to work late and night and in the early mornings.
Kerisha left Prince Andrew School after serving as head girl, and found herself, aged just 18, editing the St Helena Herald – signing her weekly editorials simply, “Kerisha”.
In that role, she featured in a video made by island teenagers for the BBC’s School Report project, commenting on the prospect of local television news on the island.
On her personal website, she says that “being bright-eyed and bushy-tailed” as an editor soon wore off, so she took a job as a press officer at The Castle in Jamestown.
“On an island of just 47 square miles it’s easy to dream of bigger and better things,” she writes.
“But, being an island girl at heart, I channeled my ambitions in to learning more and striving for the best that I could be on an island virtually in the middle of nowhere.
“I found myself wanting to play a part in the island’s future and get stuck into island affairs.”
She says trying to build people’s faith in government is challenging, but a role she enjoys.
Early in 2013 it took her to the UK to gain experience in the press offices of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development – where she met the Minister of State, Alan Duncan.
She also spent time with the island’s public relations agency, Keene, writing an article for its website about her experiences.
Ian Jones, chief public relations officer at The Castle, said of her degree: “This is a tremendous achievement and I pay tribute to Kerisha for all her hard work and her dedication to completing her studies – which I have witnessed first-hand. She is a credit to the island.”