Chizube Chikezie graduates this winter with a Master’s in Data Science (Applied Research).
Originally from Nigeria, Chizube arrived at Ulster University’s Derry~Londonderry campus in January 2021, having spent the last three years working in banking in his home country. Despite a flourishing career working across leading banks, and having successfully graduated with a degree in Economics, Chizube’s background is more on the technical side having grown up working in his family’s computing school.
Chizube decided to explore a career in something more suited to his technical background:
“I began researching where I could do a Master’s and this is when I saw the data-based courses Ulster University was offering in the field I really wanted to pursue career in, and at a really reasonable cost for someone self-funding their studies.”
Before leaving Nigeria, Chizube’s father took ill and he took on the role of caregiver – something Chizube had previous experience with:
“I would often help out at the sick bay in my family’s school – looking after the pupils who were unwell before their parents came to collect them. When I first went to university, I got a part-time job as a healthcare assistant to support myself through my degree.”
Moving to Northern Ireland, Chizube quickly became accustomed to the weather and differences in culture, and began to excel at his studies. His research focused on something he had experience of himself – optimisation of inhaling techniques particularly for asthma and COPD patients, as he had suffered a respiratory issue as a child which left him hospitalised and fighting for his life.
On top of his studies and as part of his visa conditions, Chizube became a registered healthcare assistant in NI:
“I joined an agency and worked 20 hours a week in care homes all over the place – Derry, Antrim, Belfast. This work is also part of what inspired me to pursue a research role in the healthcare sector.”
But things back home were a constant worry for Chizube as his father had three major surgeries in just 10 months. The money that family had saved to support his education abroad was used to pay for his father’s medical care, leaving Chizube to balance his studies and care work.
Thankfully his father is now in the US receiving world-leading treatment and is making a recovery. And with good things coming to those who wait (and work hard), Chizube was awarded the Dr George Moore Analytics Prize for gaining the highest mark in his class for his applied research work in September of this year, before being offered a role with one of the Big Four accounting firms which came with visa sponsorship. He is now working with Ernst and Young as a data scientist, having had offers from a number of firms across the UK and Ireland.
Chizube made the decision to stay in Northern Ireland because of the positive experience he had studying at Ulster University and the people he has met both while studying in Derry~Londonderry and Belfast, where he now lives and works. He is heavily involved in the local tech community and is a proactive member of the British Computing Society.
Speaking of his experience of studying at Ulster University as an international student, Chizube said:
“I would recommend Ulster University to anyone. Not least of all because of the support I got from teaching staff, the guidance and project advice from supervisors. I didn’t just do this on my own – I had advice and help at every corner which has armed me with the necessary skills to hopefully go on and do something to change the world, in any way that I can.”
Chizube is continuing his work as a data scientist and is exploring the fields of engineering and architecture while developing his skills in technology management and product acquisition. In his spare time, Chizube is pursuing his love of music and singing in the hopes to also professionalise his more creative talents.
Academia is still number one for Chizube though, as down the line he hopes to undertake a PhD and is currently exploring his options.
If you’re interested in finding out more about the Master’s course Chizube is graduating from, visit: https://www.ulster.ac.uk/courses/202324/data-science-with-applied-research-30493