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Master’s degree graduate Gabriel: “The master's degree will open new doors for me”

Gabriel Riako graduated from the Master's Degree Programme in Global Health and Crisis Management.

Gabriel Riako at Laurea graduation ceremony.

On Thursday 14 December, the graduation ceremony for the students of Laurea University of Applied Sciences was held in Helsinki. One of the students to complete their studies at Laurea is Gabriel Riako. Riako, living in Espoo will graduate from the Master’s Degree Programme in Global Health and Crisis Management. Gabriel, who works as a nurse, is happy to complete the studies leading to a master’s degree:

- It’s great to have the degree completed as it opens many new opportunities for me. During my studies, I’ve succeeded in building valuable professional networks, and I’ve learned a lot of new things, he says.

Gabriel Riako moved from Kenya to Finland to study in 2001. First, he acquired the Vocational Qualification in Social and Health Care, Practical Nurse. Then he continued to study nursing in Tampere and graduated in 2010. He has been working as a nurse since then. Currently, he is working at a health centre in Espoon keskus.

When Gabriel Riako arrived in Finland at the age of 19 in 2001, he was not sure if he would stay in Finland:

- For the first few years, I sort of went with the flow and did not feel that I had a permanent home here. Now, 20 years later, I have a job, a home and a family in Finland – everything a person can hope for when settling in a new country. Finland is my home country now, Riako says with joy.

Master's degree programme examines global challenges to well-being

What inspired Riako to study further was his desire to learn new things and develop as an expert in nursing. Riako is interested in new opportunities in the labour market. In addition to Finnish health care, he has experience in voluntary projects in his country of birth.  He also hopes that graduation would open up opportunities for him to participate in new projects.

Laurea’s Global Health and Crisis Management training addresses major global challenges. The students study epidemiology, and learn about the global disease burden and its underlying social, health-based and economic causes. Although the focus of education is on health promotion, it takes a broader approach to crises, also taking account of ecologically sustainable development.

- During the studies, it has been very interesting and instructive that we’ve had the opportunity to hear first-hand experiences and observations from the field, for example, from the Red Cross, says Gabriel Riako.

Students’ versatile experience brings something extra to master’s degree studies

In addition to topics related to health and well-being, Riako feels that his studies have given him a lot of other content as well. The studies have enhanced his management skills and knowledge as well as competence related to research and academic writing.

The master's degree programme is intended for those working in the social services and health care. The studies at Laurea bring together an international group of students. Riako enjoyed the studies, as all the students already had work life experience of different tasks. At the same time, they had a clear image of what they wanted to gain from their studies.

- The studies provide a very broad, global perspective on health. At the same time, this global, multicultural understanding can also be utilised when working in Finland, he says.

- I know from my own experience that moving to Finland and integrating into the Finnish society is not an easy task. Although I’ve lived here for a long time, in a certain way I’m still a foreigner who must know how to interpret the Finnish society.

Language proficiency is the single most important factor in integration

When asked what, in Gabriel’s experience, is the most important factor in successful integration into Finland, the answer is not surprising:

- Language proficiency is extremely important. Working particularly in social services and health care is very difficult without knowing Finnish, he says.

- Finnish is still challenging to me, but I already have good language proficiency. I have no trouble writing and recording data at work.

For Riako, work is an important factor that anchors him in Finland:

- I’m happy that I’ve been able to play an important and meaningful role in this society through my studies and work.


You can watch the graduation ceremony live stream on our Youtube channel