Akina juggled playing elite sport alongside her Human Geography studies.
Akina Gondwe, who plays for Worcester Warriors Women, is now completing a Master’s in International Sport Management at the University.
“I was in no doubt that I wanted to complete my masters at Worcester due to the positive experience I had during my undergraduate degree,” said the 22-year-old. “My time at Worcester has been truly amazing. I’ve met some great people who are definitely friends for life and I’ve really enjoyed balancing my rugby and my degree as I’ve learnt so many valuable lessons doing so.”
Akina, who lives in Forest Hill, London, came to Worcester as a result of the partnership that was being formed between the University and Club (Worcester Valkyries at the time). She wanted to combine playing rugby with her university degree and said Worcester provided that opportunity. Gondwe has nine caps for the England Under-20s, helping the development side to consecutive Tri-Nations Cups titles in 2018 and 2019. She said as a student athlete it was important to organise your time to get the most out of it and that the University’s Sports Scholarship programme had been beneficial.
“It hasn’t been extremely challenging, but you definitely have to make sure you’re prioritising getting academic work done whilst not letting your training standards slip,” she said. “During the three years of my undergraduate degree, I was on the University’s Silver scholarship programme. This meant I had a financial bursary, lifestyle support and a free gym membership to the gym facilities. It also enabled me to be excused from lectures or extend deadlines if I had training camps or games for England U20s at the time. I met frequently with my lifestyle advisor and he was a massive help to me as a student athlete as he was someone to talk to about my studies and helped with balancing it all.”
Akina is looking forward to the ceremony as a chance to celebrate in a way she was not able to due to Covid-19. “It definitely feels good to be graduating officially as I finished my degree on a random day in May 2020 and it almost felt anti-climatic because all I did was close my laptop,” she added. “I’m looking forward to linking up with all my old course mates as it has been over a year since I’ve seen most of them.”