Student profile: Nina Clifton
Nina Clifton has just finished her MSc in Global Public Health and Policy at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry. While she was still completing her studies, she bravely took on the Man vs Coast challenge to raise money for the charity Help Refugees. We caught up with her to find out more about the event and why she is so passionate about this cause.
Congratulations on completing your masters! It sounds like you’ve been really busy. Have you ever competed in anything like Man vs Coast before?
I'd run half marathons before and decided, as I'm doing it for such a good cause, this time I really needed to push myself. So I entered Man vs Coast not really sure of what it entailed at the time. The event itself was very tough! I could barely walk another step when I finished but it was so rewarding. I would even go so far as to say it was fun – it's 25 miles of running, but broken up by additional swimming, coasteering, and cliff jumping sections. The scenery makes the pain more enjoyable – the Cornwall coastline is absolutely stunning.
That sounds exhilarating! Did participating in Man vs Coast help with your studies?
It actually helped in two ways. Committing to take part in such a physically challenging event meant having to keep to a relatively strict training regime over the couple of months leading up to the event. At points, it was tricky to fit around the intensity of the studies, but the rewards for being so active have benefited me no end. Exercise is great for coping with the stressful day-to-day of masters life and great after a long day sitting down in the library. Running is also a great way to explore London a bit more! It also gave me the opportunity to spread awareness, and raise vital funds for the charity Help Refugees – a cause that I'm so passionate about supporting. So passionate, in fact, that this is what my masters thesis is on!
It’s great that you’re so passionate about this cause – what drives that passion?
My Grandpa was Polish, and had to flee Poland with his family in the Second World War. He was accepted and welcomed into many countries, but chose to settle in London, and then Philadelphia, where he spent the remainder of his life. He was from a large family and his siblings fled many different ways, settling and creating roots all across the world. The world is so connected, through families, through friends, through trade. We’re all just like each other, and it’s so important to remember that. We all deserve dignity and hope, and to be treated with humanity and respect, and that's the message I wanted to get across.
Help Refugees have a very fitting motto, which entirely sums up my reasons for supporting refugees – 'Choose Love'.
That’s a great motto to have and live by! Why do you think it’s so important to share this message now?
I felt it more important than ever, in the current political climate, to raise awareness for the cause of refugees. It's too easy to get caught up in the media headlines – I wanted to share some insight into the reality and urgency of the situation, from the voice of charities who work on the ground to support those who have been forcibly displaced due to conflict and threat of persecution. My aim was to get people thinking and talking more about the cause and about small things we can all do to help.