Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Angelicum: A Doctoral Program Postponed Over the Years

I’m celebrating almost a year of being a student, after a hiatus of more than a decade! When I finished my Bachelors and Licentiate in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the Jesuit-run Gregorian University in the early 2000s, I was appointed to several departments of the Zambia Episcopal Conference’s social communication offices. I started off working in the Episcopal Conference’s television production studios and eventually became the spokesperson for the Zambian Bishops. In the latter role, I worked closely with the Zambian secular media in disseminating the messages of the Church through press statements, interviews, conferences, and other work relating to my role as spokespersons for the local churches.

I always wanted to do a doctorate but after many years away from academic studies I practically gave up on the idea. In truth, I did not feel I still had the confidence I needed to do a doctoral program. It took much nudging from my Bishop, family and friends to finally bring myself to register.

I finally registered this year in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas and I am now finishing my first year in the doctoral program. My choice of studying at the Angelicum was influenced by two former students who spoke very highly about the university – a Rwandese and a British student. I can never thank them enough for leading me this way!

As you would guess, my doctoral research interest is on the Zambian Catholic Church and how it communicates its Christian message. I hope, in some small way, to highlight in my dissertation the Church’s contribution to Zambia’s political development and perhaps suggest ways to improve how the local Church communicates its messages to the Zambian public.

I keep being asked by friends why I am in doctoral studies at my age and after such a long time away from studies! Some ask how things are going. Well, the honest truth is that it has been a hard process, a very hard process indeed! I am still trying to get into the rhythm of study and attempting to organize my studies around the other things I am doing in my life. However, in the process I am realizing with a sense of great humility and wonderment that there is still so much that I do not know and still for me to discover.

The Angelicum and, in particular, the Faculty of Social Sciences, have been key and of great support in my new academic journey. Moreover, my confidence has been boosted to find out that there are colleagues my age and even older still studying! The Angelicum is a friendly and welcoming place, and the staff and professors are approachable and knowledgeable. It is also very inclusive of the students in all aspects of the University’s life. It’s the first university I have ever been to where students take part in electing the Faculty Dean!

A big part of me is very glad that I am finally in doctoral studies. But I still have a long and arduous road to travel. Now that I am finally inserted into the program, it seems my life is coming full circle. I feel motivated to make the sacrifices and to do all that it takes to get this doctorate done, insha’Allah!

Fr. Paul Samasumo
Faculty of Social Sciences-Doctoral Studies 

IDF September-October 2016 Newsletter