Student Success Story: From Bolivia to London via Northumbria University London

Bolivian native Camila Arce Derpic spent hours researching a postgraduate degree that aligned with her ambition to become a business professional.

Graduating in March 2021 from Northumbria University London with MSc Business and International Management, she tells us how she wants to “lead by example” and how “studying as an international student was interesting and pushed [her] outside of [her] comfort zone.”

No stranger to travelling, studying, and living abroad, Camila Arce Derpic was born in the political capital of Bolivia, La Paz, where she completed an International Baccalaureate before moving to Tokyo, Japan, to complete her undergraduate degree in economics. She returned home after five years, working as an English and Japanese instructor for various organisations while she studied for a diploma in branding and positioning. Despite years of studying her journey was only just beginning and she knew her next milestone was to study in the UK.

Studying at Northumbria University London

Eager to combine her love of learning and living abroad, Camila was on a mission to “find a master’s degree that aligned with [her] international experience and centred on global business,” she explains: “after so much searching, I found a great program at the Northumbria University London Campus, MSc Business with International Management. What I loved the most was the international environment all the classes had – our professors aligned on giving us worldwide examples. The global focus expanded my understanding of different economic, political and social aspects but also gave us the opportunity to understand a variety of cultural factors that are crucial when analysing what is happening now and in the future.

Camila Arce Derpic

Camila Arce Derpic graduated from Northumbria University London

Camila adds: “I really enjoyed working in multicultural teams, being able to develop my group and leadership abilities, as well as learning to be more open-minded. Furthermore, I also became the Program Representative for MSc Business with International Management, responsible for representing students on their program, learning about their university experience and liaising with university staff to secure the best learning experience.”

Overcoming challenges with academic support

The global pandemic was the backdrop to Camila’s entry into London, from online learning to lockdowns, she admits: “It was a difficult time during the Covid-19 pandemic but I am so grateful for all the support I received from the professors and staff at Northumbria University London. Particularly the Ask4Help Team, which gave me confidence and personal advice as well as the ACE Team, which helped me focus on explaining the rules for academic writing such as appropriate referencing.”

She continues: “The clear communication and welfare of students is something I will always remember, and I am thankful to have overcome difficult moments during my studies thanks to the support and guidance from Northumbria University London’s academic staff.”

Adapting to lockdown learning

Camila had planned to work part-time during her studies however, due to the Covid-19 restrictions, was unable. Turning the first wave of lockdown and moving to virtual classes, she admits the online sessions were interactive despite not being face-to-face. “It had a huge impact on me, it strengthened me in terms of resilience and I became very focused on finishing my thesis.”

Moreover, Camila says the lectures were “really interesting” and she found the academic staff were “always taking the time to message back to my questions and offering feedback and help across all different areas of my learning,” she adds: “I really felt very supported and appreciated the human interaction between the professors and students.”

Camila explains she is optimistic to “lead by example with courage and be an inspiration” to her community in Bolivia. It’s not too common for Bolivian students to seek studying opportunities abroad, the challenges of cultural difference and learning a new language are two of the main reasons Camila noted. “For me, my experience of travelling and studying abroad has really opened my mind to different cultures and ways of life. I have become more open and eager to progress my career and follow my dreams.”

Confidence in the classroom to the workplace

Studying at Northumbria University London is an experience Camila says is her greatest achievement. Today, she works for Accenture in London and still applies concepts she learnt during her degree into her day job. “Learning new ideas was really interesting to see different subject areas merging to new ways of working. Data analysis links so closely with technical business concepts and people skills,” she says: “It has been such a great learning path where I have developed myself and expanded my knowledge that I now apply with confidence to a variety of challenges in my job.”

Bolivian native Camila Arce Derpic

“Studying as an international student was interesting and pushed me outside of my comfort zone” – Camila Arce Derpic

What’s next for Camila? She explains how she fell in love with London – the culture, architecture and history in the city. “I love the fast-paced business world and the big opportunities. Plus, the diversity of the people from all around the world, it’s so interesting to be a student and then start a professional life here, it’s exciting.”

She adds: “There are lots of opportunities in London and the progression for business is open to everyone. I would encourage anyone interested in studying in London to search for opportunities, be adaptable and don’t be fearful.”

Career ready with Northumbria University London

Camila explains studying is more than just learning academic knowledge but also graduating equipped with people skills. “Studying at Northumbria University London helped me gain confidence in being open with other people, having conversations and being able to cooperate within team settings.”

The value Camila has found from completing her master’s goes beyond technical writing abilities and critical thinking, but she says: “The most important part was working with people in agile ways and learning different business frameworks. I was introduced to new concepts that have become so important in my current role.”

Advice for a prospective student

“Overcome your fears and don’t let them lead your life,” Camila says: “If you feel connected to what your goal is don’t doubt your ability, you will find the support and learn what you don’t know. No one arrives here knowing everything.”

She adds: “Focus on your goals, there will be challenges but don’t get scared of that, don’t sabotage yourself with fears, you can overcome difficulty and speak to different people, it’s so important to be open. Northumbria University London is the place that can help you achieve your goals and aspirations in the future.”

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