I trust readers will excuse the personal nature of this blog post, but I felt it was important to mark the end of my PhD journey with a short piece. All rites of passage merit acknowledgement, and this one is no exception.
Firstly, committing several years of your life to this type of endeavour means you must sometimes rely on the good will and patience of others, specially during the difficult times that can (and do) crop up when you least need or expect them. I have been extraordinarily fortunate, and my partner and family have proudly supported me to an extent that has exceeded all reasonable expectation. The gratitude I feel for them cannot be expressed in words. I have also been lucky to have had great mentors, who have guided me through what started as a daunting maze, which eventually turned into a pathway of intellectual discovery. I specially owe gratitude to my principal supervisor at the University of Hull, Professor Richard Barnes. I am also grateful to my successive second supervisors Drs. Vassilis Tzevelekos and Carmino Massarella, and to the wonderful friends and colleagues from the Law and Politics school and beyond, that I have had the privilege of sharing the PhD journey with in different ways: Nkiruka, Eva, Timea, Yuchen, Rick, Loria-Mae, Ife, Nezihe, Zoe, Flavia, Talal, David, Nuhu, Lillie, Mustafa… to name but a few! All of you have made this moment possible.
Secondly, I should add that I was immensely lucky to be awarded a scholarship by the University of Hull, and I will always be grateful to this brilliant institution for the opportunity this has afforded me. Without the university’s financial assistance, I doubt I would have been able to invest the necessary study time to conduct my research successfully. Yet, in this journey I have met some incredible people who have financed their PhD through their own work, and who even look after their families at the same time. My admiration has no limits, and to all of you who currently are, or have been, in that situation I say: I take my hat off to you, for you are superheroes!
Lastly, I would like to thank the many, many people who have encouraged and inspired me along the way. I owe special gratitude to the Environmental Justice Foundation, my employer at the time when I returned to legal study, whose phenomenal work on IUU fishing re-ignited my passion for the law (if curious, you can visit their website here).
A small handful of you have told me over the past couple of years that you have been mulling over the idea of embarking on a similar journey yourselves. The PhD is like a marathon in which you compete against your own limits of commitment and resilience. It is a life-changing experience from which you are unlikely to emerge entirely unscathed. But if, like me, you love your field of work, believe in the importance of good research, and know in your heart that your priority is to make a difference through knowledge, then you too should enter the race. I look forward to greeting you on the other side.
With much gratitude