This former model is pursuing her LSE Masters to give her political career an edge
Sabrina Idukpaye is simply ambitious. A graduate of the prestigious McGill University in Montreal, Idukpaye is preparing for a political career in her native country, Nigeria. In fact, she is currently an LSE Masters student, a choice she made to prepare for the upcoming Nigerian presidential elections in 2023.
“It makes sense to me, because to create change, at least politically, you have to get into the system,” she told Study International. “You don’t wake up thinking you’re going to be president, at least not in Nigeria. Or you don’t wake up and become a minister. You start locally, or at least at a small capacity, and then build yourself up.
An LSE masters student with a big dream
Her presidential dream was inspired by the challenges she faced in obtaining the citizenship of the country in which she was born. Growing up, Idukpaye saw how difficult things could be for immigrants, especially Nigerians. Her family had moved from Nigeria to Italy – Idukpaye herself was born in the country. Despite this, she and her family have fought for the same rights and freedoms given to Italian nationals – an issue she highlighted in a TEDxLSE talk on “Why We’re Not Italians”.
Eventually, she completed her education in Canada and was granted citizenship, but her experience in Italy remains with her to this day.
This manifested by the desire to become a lawyer. “I was studying for the LSAT because I really thought I was going to do law,” she explains. “My dream law school was Harvard. So, during the first half of the pandemic, I was preparing my personal and diversity letters. Unfortunately, I didn’t do so well on the LSAT, so I was not admitted.
It certainly acted as a setback for his plan. “When I was younger, I thought I had to be a lawyer,” she explains. “I didn’t realize that I could be an activist or that I could work with an NGO.
Not one to be discouraged, Idukpaye pondered his future and realized that a legal route was not the only way to achieve his goals. “I said to myself: you don’t have to be a lawyer to change things,” she recalls. “So I thought, what else can I do to prepare for these goals? And I realized that I had just had a wonderful career in communications.
She was referring to her previous experience as an award-winning model. At just 14 years old, she was discovered by a Canadian modeling agency and has been on the cover of many famous magazines, including Vogue Italia, and participated in various Mercedes Benz Fashion Week events internationally. She even took three semesters out of her undergraduate studies to pursue her modeling career.
Despite her passion for modeling, Idukpaye has separated her modeling life and her college life. As a model, she was known by the pseudonym Sabrina Bella and only used her real name for academic and professional purposes. “I was like, ‘I’m not going to put my real name,'” she laughs. “’I will be president one day. This is a digital fingerprint.
Due to her work, she has quite a large following on social media, which she has tapped into during the pandemic.
“What was really important during the pandemic was communication,” she says. “Everyone was talking about COVID. There was the Black Lives Matter movement and then the tragic massacre that happened in Nigeria – and it only became possible for the whole world to find out about it through the media and communications because the country -even was trying to suppress this information, this protest and what was really continued. So with all of that in mind, I realized that, you know what? This is what I need to own.
With a political career in mind, Idukpaye applied for an LSE master’s degree. Her choice of university was deliberate: she was seduced by LSE Ranking as the best university in the UK and third in the world for media and communications. She knew that the prestige and recognition associated with college would help her in her future career, especially as an aspirant. political woman.
“It’s a men’s club,” she says of the Nigerian political scene. “As a woman, you are already faced with the fact that people always see you as an inferior sex or that you do not belong in this society or this arena. This is to establish that you also have knowledge and that this knowledge that you have acquired is not from any university but from a top university. So you do what you need to do to prove you are capable and worthy of their time.
Today, Idukpaye has made peace with her two separate identities, embracing each other as both an LSE masters student and an influencer. More importantly, she realized that merging her two identities can be an advantage in her future political career.
“I realize now that people want to see a charismatic politician,” she said. “People like to see people they can relate to, which is why, for example, influencers are taking over the celebrity realm right now. I realize that might not be a problem that these two identities collide and potentially combine.
Her advice to students is that there is nothing wrong with going back to the drawing board and reassessing their goals and aspirations in the midst of setbacks.
“At the moment, I am considered a mature LSE Masters student,” she says. “So in a way it’s almost like a second career. It’s a change in what I was doing. So what I’ll say is this: there’s nothing wrong with start over. It’s okay to go back to the drawing board. It’s okay to reinvent different ways to get to the same destination. Think about where you want to go, where you want to be, and how you can understand that it won’t always be linear.