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Aniekan Archibong Nigerian American Aniekan “Koko” Archibong fitted his Master of Public Health (MPH) studies into his career as a professional basketball player, graduating less than a year after competing in the 2012 Olympic Games as part of the Nigerian basketball team.

“That was one of the biggest challenges – to manage my time so that I could balance my professional schedule, particularly during the team’s Olympic run,” said Koko, who graduated in July 2013 with an MPH focused on Management of Health Systems.

At 32, Koko has now retired from professional basketball, and is working in administration and athletics at a US polytechnic school. He’s keen to inspire young people in the USA and Nigeria to take up sports as part of a healthy life.

What attracted you to studying an MPH degree online with the University of Liverpool?

It offered me the perfect opportunity to further my education alongside my already busy professional basketball schedule. I really enjoyed the flexibility and being able to study and learn at my own pace.

What were the highlights and challenges you faced while studying?

The biggest highlight was the entire dissertation process and learning how to research and write a body of work of that magnitude. That was also one of the biggest challenges in terms of balancing my schedule.

The classroom environment was also one of the best parts of the experience. Getting to relate and interact with students from all over the world and so many different backgrounds and contexts expanded my international network tremendously.

How did you fit online study into your life?

For the most part, studying online fitted very nicely into my schedule in terms of team practices and games. I just had to be disciplined to get my reading and work done on time or ahead of time. I found it best to take the bulk of my classes in the summers between my basketball seasons and when I wasn’t travelling too much. It worked out well for me!

How useful and relevant is the MPH in your current and potential future roles?

The MPH has shown me how to approach the topic of health from a more holistic perspective and has changed the way I view my role and responsibility in everything that I do to be an advocate of positive health habits. For my future, the degree has given me an understanding of how to learn and how I personally learn, and has also increased my capacity to devise and implement a research project on any particular subject.

Does the degree give you a credential that you are proud to mention on your CV?

Definitely. I feel proud of my achievement in earning the MPH degree and I believe that it is a clear illustration of my passion for health and my commitment to expand my knowledge base and find new ways to continue to learn and improve.

How important is it for you that the University has an international reputation in public health?

This was a very important factor for me when I was deciding where I would like to continue my education. After doing extensive research on the schools out there that offered online education and reviewing their credentials, it became clear to me the University of Liverpool was the right school for me, being 100% online and also boasting such great credentials the world over.

What’s your next big project?

I am currently working on establishing a project to bring an athletics – particularly basketball – training programme to the youth in my family’s hometown in Nigeria. My hope is that this will make kids and young adults more aware of the need to increase their physical activity in order to stay healthy.

I would recommend the University of Liverpool because...

...It’s a wonderful learning environment and experience, and offers adult learners that may already have professional careers the chance to explore other passions and interests as well.

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