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Why did you choose the University of Birmingham?
I chose the University of Birmingham for a few reasons. First of all, it was close in proximity to where I was living, which allowed me to commute. I thought the campus was very beautiful, as well. Beyond that, the school has an excellent reputation. And finally, I was set on the course as it was offered: MA International Studies in Education (Education and Development). This seemed to suit me perfectly, which I felt was necessary at the Masters level.
What, for you, are the best things about the course?
I like the tutors. They are all experts in their fields, but genuinely, most of them will go well out of their way to help students. I like the community. There are always events happening, and there is a clear sense of community, no matter what you are interested in. I like the international nature of my course. Both the Department of Education and Social Justice and the International Development Department, in which I sit in my course, are very diverse in the student body. Students are also quite keen to be involved and to make events where none exist. I really like this about my programme.
What piece of advice would you give to anyone considering postgraduate study in your field?
My number one piece of advice would be do not see postgraduate study as an automatic ticket to a job or a higher paying job. A lot more goes into actually securing the positions you want than just education. Be prepared to work at this if you do decide to take up postgraduate study, but also be aware that Birmingham gives a lot of support for this.
What has been the highlight of your time at Birmingham?
I have been a student rep at the school, college and senate levels, which has allowed me to have a powerful voice for postgraduate students across the university. I have learned valuable skills and met some wonderful people along the way.
Can you describe your journey from school to where you are now?
I graduated high school in the United States, and I knew that I wanted to be a teacher. I applied and was easily accepted to a state university, where I excelled. I won several awards for teaching, linguistics, and my thesis paper. From there, I struggled for three years to find a teaching position, as I graduated during the recession in the United States. After three years, I took up a teaching position in Bahrain, in the Arabian Gulf. I taught there for three years, at which point, I moved to the UK to marry my now husband. After receiving my Leave to Remain status, I decided to return to university to get my Masters degree to make a career change. My intention was to move from classroom teaching to working with refugees in some capacity. This is my hope when I graduate from the University of Birmingham.
Was there a big transition from undergraduate to postgraduate study?
Because I had a career before I began my postgraduate study, there was a decent amount of time between my undergraduate and postgraduate study. Furthermore, I attended university for my undergraduate degree in Pennsylvania in the United States, and obviously, my postgraduate degree was done in the UK. That being said, I think the biggest difference was the level at which we were expected to write. Much more reading is expected at the postgraduate level, and you are expected to ground your writing in the current body of literature that is available. This was not really the case in my undergraduate degree, so it has been my greatest challenge.