Tahir Fazal 

Country: United States of America
Sector: Higher Education
Job title: Research Operations Assistant
Subject of study: Social and Organisational Psychology
Year of graduation: 2021
Type/Level of study: Postgraduate Taught

Current Employer/Organisation Name

John Jay College Of Criminal Justice

Tell us about your background and why you chose to go to university

I was born in Queens, New York, but I grew up in Pakistan. I have always been fascinated by human nature and psychology. But the war on terror in Pakistan made me question too many things and concepts. Therefore, I did my bachelors in international affairs.  

My interest grew, and I wanted more than the rationality presented by the world powers for their irrational decisions. My curiosity forced me to study master’s in negotiations and conflict management at the Baltimore, MD, USA university.  

While taking this program, I realized there is much more to understanding conflict and negotiations than studying global politics and history. Meanwhile, I worked as a tour guide in Baltimore city which helped me understand human nature extensively. Speaking to hundreds of nationalities each day opened my mind like never before. Listening to stories and life decisions inundates not by rationalities but by being overwhelmed by emotions and feelings.  

I started to look for master’s programs in psychology all over the globe. Meanwhile, I was randomly introduced to the university of Exeter by a friend who spoke highly of its Islamic and Arabic research departments.   

How did being awarded the Global Excellence scholarship make you feel?

I eventually applied for a master’s in psychology at the University of Exeter, knowing that I won’t be able to afford it. But I was just hopeful. Maybe luck would work. I was not aware at all of the Global excellence scholarship until I was offered the program. I applied for the scholarship, and being awarded this scholarship was one of the best days of my life.  

As a Pakistani American, doing a master’s in the United States is asking for bankruptcy and lifetime debt. I was very adamant about my position that I would never take a student loan that has accumulated to $1.3 trillion in America. Global Excellence made it possible to not only study at one of the most prestigious universities in the world but without any fear of debt. 

How did winning a Global Excellence scholarship help you with your studies?

The scholarship helped me a lot in several ways. First, getting a master’s degree which I wanted from a good, research-intensive university. Second, I was able to save money and moved back to New York to start my life. Without a scholarship, I would still be studying in America and working part-time to afford it. I saved so much that I am now considering pursuing a Ph.D. program. 

Tell us about your experiences in Exeter – living in the city, joining societies, your favourite part of your studies:

Exeter city is one of Earth’s most peaceful, green, friendly, and safe places. The city’s beauty is its small size which helps you focus on building communities and groups instead of just exploring the city. I miss Exeter a lot. 

How have your studies at Exeter helped you on your career journey?

My Exeter degree helped me get this amazing job at the city university of New York. I work with John Jay College’s research department, continuously interacting with faculties about their research applications, funds, and proposals. Without academic knowledge, it would have been difficult for me to correspond and understand research. Exeter University taught me how to think critically. The best thing I got from Exeter university is confidence. I feel proud when I say that I studied at Exeter University. It has made me powerful. 

I am also working as a project assistant for Project Alethia. In this project we interact with high government officials, like the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, and academics to understand the psychology of interrogation and deception. Exeter university’s psychology program helped me understand the psychology of intergroup relations, the psychology of interrogation, and so much more.  

What are your plans for the future?

My plans are to pursue Ph.D. in psychology from NYC, either from NYU or Columbia University. I also plan to work with the United Nations.  



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