IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


Q&A with Cathy Lasam-Ballo

Cathy Lasam-Ballo is an Art Education, Culture and Practice MA student, class of 2023. She talks to us about her experience studying at IOE as a recipient of the Centenary Master's Scholarship.

Cathy Lasam-Ballo - Art Education, Culture and Practice MA student, class of 2023. Permission: Cathy Lasam-Ballo

What is your educational background?

A bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts, majoring in painting, and a Certificate in Education.

What are your motivations for pursuing a graduate-level qualification?

I have been teaching and practising art for many years and have accumulated a wealth of experience in the field. However, during that pandemic, it was quickly evident that even with my knowledge and experience, it would not be enough if I wanted to be competitive and knowledgeable in the way education has changed and will continue to change in the coming years.

By pursuing graduate-level qualifications, I feel assured that I will be able to continue delivering the best teaching and administration I can as we move forward post-pandemic. 

Why did you apply to UCL for graduate study?

When I searched for graduate studies in Art Education, I chose universities with the highest rankings and the best curriculum and modules that best suited my needs.

I selected UCL because IOE was consistently ranked number one in Education for many years, and the Art Education, Culture and Practices MA had exactly what I was looking for – a curriculum that teaches alternative models of education, the role of contemporary art and gallery practices in education and new mediums for pedagogy.

What is the best thing about your course?

One of the best things about my course is how well-balanced it is.

Our programme leader has developed a programme that balances academic reading and literature with applied practice, involving both research and actual in-school experiences in various settings and institutions.

The learning is contextualised and absolutely engaging.

What do you find interesting about your field of study and what inspires you?

Teaching the arts and working with the arts is my lifelong passion, and sharing this passion with my students and fellow teachers is what inspires me.

I have always been passionate about the arts and its power to examine and celebrate our humanity – how it connects us all and its power to educate and heal.

What networking opportunities have you undertaken during your studies?

There is a wealth of networking opportunities within UCL and with the many universities in London. I’ve visited and attended events at SOAS, Whitechapel Gallery, the New School, UKCISA and others.

These were unique opportunities for students to learn directly from and be inspired by successful changemakers in our field of arts and education, while opening up avenues for possible collaborations in the future.

What is it like studying in London and do you think it has benefited your studies?

Studying in London is a fully ‘lived’ educational experience. One learns many invaluable things in and out of the university classrooms, and being part of London culture is certainly a great addition to my education.

London is a very multicultural city, and with classmates and flatmates from all over the world, it becomes a very rich and humbling experience to learn from so many cultures, points-of-view and experiences.

Has there been an element of your degree programme that has impressed you? 

Our module Practice-Based Research has been particularly interesting and impressive. It’s the first time I've encountered a method where our process involves exploration through our own arts practice. Our findings and observations from this exploration will then inform our academic research.

The methodology also involved in-depth readings and group discussions, which I found very informative and educational, as all of the components of the module fostered healthy critique, academic investigation and critical analysis.

How has your scholarship helped you achieve your aspirations and what impact has it had on your studies?

As a recipient of the Centenary Master's Scholarship, the funding for my studies and accommodation has been invaluable.

Access to a UK education would have otherwise been impossible to me, and I am grateful for the wealth of learning and new opportunities this has given to me.

Is there anything else you would like to say about your time at IOE?

My time at IOE has so far been amazing – in terms of the quality and depth of the curriculum, the classroom experience, the networking opportunities and the breadth of cultures represented.

Last updated 22 February 2023.