Verlyndah 1Who are you and where are you from?  

Hi, I’m Verlyndah Hodge from Anguilla, British Caribbean. My clients call me ‘Verlyndoula’ because that’s what I am- a certified birth doula. I provide emotional support and maternity related education so mothers and their partners are prepared and can better advocate for themselves during pregnancy, labour and birth. 

What course are you studying? 

I am pursuing a Master of Science in Health and Public Service Management. 

How did you find out about the University of South Wales/are you on a scholarship? 

I did extensive research on programs that would allow me to study the theoretical aspects of maternal care and the various models used by health systems. The program I applied to was eligible for funding through the Chevening Scholarship. The scholarship allows me to study in the U.K and take advantage of networking opportunities to strengthen my career aspirations. 

What’s your favourite part of your course so far? 

I get to interact with medical professionals on a day-to-day basis. My classmates and lecturers are from very diverse backgrounds, so our discussions are quite dynamic. We often dissect how policies impact service providers, users and other stakeholders by debating current issues in the health sector.  

What’s the best thing about your USW campus? 

Treforest is beautiful. The campus is perched on a mountain/hillside in the middle of a forest. The academic environment can easily become rigid, but the nature aspect of the campus brings balance. I also love the onsite social scene - I can finish some research in the library and meet fellow scholars at Mo’s Bar to unwind. 

How are you enjoying living in the UK? 

I’m sure it all depends on what you expect from living in the U.K. Wales has exceeded my expectations. The general community is hospitable. Settling in can be burdensome but I’ve met people (on campus and complete strangers) that helped with adjusting to the area. 

I’ve even found some really good restaurants with foods that warm my heart (Glanmor’s in Caerphilly and Jafran Indian Takeaway in Llanstrisant).  

Cardiff city is a great escape, it’s busy but not overbearing. So, I get the city life and wide-open spaces all in one while studying at USW.   

What advice would you give to someone who wants to study in the UK? 

Do lots of research - living arrangements and access to public transportation are essential. But honestly take one day at a time. For orientation week- A professor said something that I’ve applied to my time here in the U.K. as a Chevening Scholar and USW postgraduate student– “Make the Familiar Strange”.  

What are your aspirations? What would you like to do in the future? 

I aspire to change the way we view pregnancy and birth as a global society. But specifically, I want to continue advocating for Caribbean women who face cultural stigmas relating to their birth choices and experiences. My region is very diverse, yet not enough research exists to provide focused maternal care reflective of the Caribbean woman’s needs- especially for small island territories like my own- Anguilla. Hard data provides out-of-touch policies that often leave most the vulnerable mothers to suffer. As a maternal care consultant, I intend to champion the cause for policy change among small island territories to address issues like postpartum depression through proper data collection, evidence-based research and continuity of care programs.   

The Future=Positive Birth Experiences.