Double celebration for Stonehaven grad

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IT was a double doze of celebrations for a Stonehaven woman who graduated last month.

Former Maritime Rescue Institute (MRI) employee Joanna McDonald celebrated her 36th birthday on the same day she picked up a MSc in Corporate Communication and Public Affairs from Robert Gordon University.

Joanna, who spent eight years at the MRI and before heading out to Uganda where she worked as Director of the National Lake Rescue Institute, decided to go back to university 13 years after completing her first degree in Environmental Biology and Geography at St Andrews in 1996.

During her time in Uganda she directed a number of initiatives to prevent drowning in Lake Victoria and Lake Albert, communicating with a diverse range of people, from local fishing communities to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. Between periods in Uganda, Joanna even ran a dog team in Alaska with Dr Linda Chamberlain, an epidemiologist specialising in childhood exposure to violence and brain development.

All of these roles proved to be instrumental in Joanna’s future career plans: “The common theme between all these roles for me was communication and engagement with a broad range of people, organisations and needs.”

Having been out of higher education for thirteen years, Joanna felt a certain amount of trepidation about embarking on a course of study again. However, she need not have worried, as she went on to win both the class prizes available – best PR campaign and best overall student.

Joanna added: “The specialised course and strong business partnerships available at RGU meant that I was given a great foundation to solidify and develop my skills. The course let me bridge the gap between academia and my industry experiences, and helped me take the next step in my career.”