Jane Frances Abodo
LLM in Law, TCD
Jane is a state prosecutor in Uganda, specialising in white collar and cyber crime. She received a fellowship in 2015-16 to study for a Master of Laws at Trinity College Dublin.
Walking through Trinity College on a crisp spring morning in Dublin, Jane Abodo says “It is really enriching here. I couldn’t have wished to be anywhere else.” Abodo took a life-changing step last September when she was awarded a one-year postgraduate study fellowship from Irish Aid. She is now studying for an LLM in Law from Trinity College Dublin.
Back home, Abodo is a prosecutor, a state attorney working on behalf of the Ugandan state. She specialises in white collar and cybercrime. Describing her work, she says, “I am a lawyer of the people.”
Originally from Karamoja, Jane says that growing up “the education of girl children was not a priority.” However, her mother saw the value of education and always encouraged Jane to pursue her educational goals. “Now looking at my education here at Trinity College, I can say that it is really beyond my dreams.”
Jane first heard about the Irish Aid fellowship programme in the late 1990s (the programme was established in the early 1970s) but family and career commitments meant that it was not until 2015 that she was awarded a fellowship.
“Studying in Ireland has really been a fulfilling experience.” Jane is part of a culturally diverse community of students on her programme. “Lecturers encourage us to discuss and to exchange ideas. It is not just about education but exchange of cultures. The way I look at things now is so different. I look at things globally.”
“People are encouraged to share their views here and are eager to listen. Studying with young people with brilliant ideas has been inspiring. Most lecturers know that I have worked for the last 15 years and so I am able to share examples from my working life in class. What you learn in class is so different from what is happening on the ground.”
Reflecting on life in Ireland, Jane says that she did not experience as much homesickness as she expected though she says “I miss the beautiful climate in Uganda, summer all year round!” “Actually, I knew a lot about Ireland before I came here because the Irish Embassy really prepared us. People in Ireland really went out of their way to make us feel comfortable. I really feel that the Irish people are like Africans in Europe, kind people and really willing to help. Irish people don’t just say ‘thank you’, they say ‘thanks a million.’ It really has a lot of meaning to me.” “It has been a really good experience,” she says, “except for the weather in the beginning. Recently I got to see the snow and it was so nice.”
“Coming to Trinity has been a dream come true. I feel the world is at my feet. My degree from Ireland will make such a huge difference to me. Personally, I have become an expert in my field. Professionally, my organisation is restructuring. I stand a chance to get a promotion and a new position due to my new education experience.” Jane says sometimes she cannot believe that she is in this position because she is one of only 3 female lawyers from the Karamoja region working in the Ugandan judicial system.
Jane notes that the Irish Aid fellowship programme has been “a great opportunity.” “I look at this not just for myself but for the sake of Karamoja. When I go back, I really feel I can be active in being an ambassador for Karamoja, to go there and to stand in front of a class of young children and tell them, ‘I was doing exactly what you were doing once. I started learning outside, writing on the ground under a tree. You just need determination and hard work and you can achieve by studying at Trinity College, one of the best universities in the world.’”
“Sometimes when you go away for study, you appreciate life better and it has been like a journey into myself.”