My Postgraduate Experience - Laura Gough
Do a Phd? I must be crazy…..
Here I am 2am in the morning reading journals, while there is a sink full of dishes behind me, the ironing pile is like the Leaning Tower of Pisa and I can hear the sound of a stirring baby about to wake up for the second time tonight…
My life isn’t made to fit in studying for a PhD, nor am I your traditional academic, but what I am is motivated (well most of the time) to achieve, and to keep achieving.
My journey through Higher Ed
My introduction to Higher Education came from working at Wrexham Glyndwr University back when it was known as NEWI. I started as a Modern Apprentice in the Business School office, an unexperienced 18 year old, who dropped out of sixth form as I was too busy spending time with my then boyfriend (now husband).
I never had any inclination to study at Higher Education level, and to be honest didn’t have the confidence in my own ability to even consider it. But working in HE made me realise just how much it changes people lives for the better; seeing the students come through the door on their first day and month by month developing in themselves into confident, knowledgeable individuals.
Their enthusiasm brushed off, especially from those who I considered to be just like me, non-traditional academics; but they wanted to grow, and even through hard times, they kept coming in, doing their assignments and achieving their goals.
Working within the School office was a fantastic time surrounded by academics and students, so I felt in a good place to start my own journey. Firstly I completed the HNC in Business, then went on to do the full honours degree. Doing the degree was hard whilst working full time, so when my tutor asked if was going on to go on to do a masters programme I originally laughed at the prospect, but then I thought "actually, I have nothing to lose." The academics had been so supportive, and it would give me an opportunity to gain even more knowledge and experience.
However at that point I didn’t have children, so while it was hard, and took up a lot of my spare time, I at least had a full night’s sleep every night!
When I started the masters programme, it became a bit of a running joke in my family that I was never going to stop studying, my mum constantly said she wanted me to be a doctor, and I needed to do the ‘PH’ as she continually called it even though I corrected her a hundred times!
I didn’t start the PhD straight after the Masters though, work commitments didn’t allow me to do so, and then when my first child came along I started to resign myself to the fact that maybe a Masters was enough, and eventually the running joke of me doing my ‘PH’ faded.
However I also knew that if I wanted to progress within the Higher Education Sector that having a PhD was key, so I had a choice to make…
For my mum
Life took a sudden turn when in 2014, my mum passed away. There were a few things we laughed and chatted about in her last few days, but one of the last things she said was she wanted me to do my ‘PH’, and that she knew I had the determination to do it regardless of what life threw at me. I promised her and myself that day that I would do a PhD, and prove to myself I could do it.
I finally enrolled on the PhD in 2016, in fact while pregnant with my second child. Yes I was completely nuts, and yes I have fallen behind, and I haven’t spent the time on my studies that I should have, but this year I got assigned a new supervisor Dr Jan Green, and she has given me the support and encouragement I need to get through.
Despite what it may seem like, studying doesn’t come easy to me, and I have to work really hard to achieve my goals, but with Jan’s support, and the encouragement of all the postgrad staff it really motivates me to keep me going.
I spend my evenings reading, researching and writing as much as I can, normally from about 10pm at night when everyone is in bed and the house is at its quietest. Yes it is hard, yes it is tiring and yes it would be so much easier to stop and just go to bed every night instead. But then I wouldn't achieve my goal, my boys wouldn’t see me cross that graduation stage, andnot only would I feel like I'm letting myself down, but also my supervisor and the memory of my mum.
I'm past the point of no return now - there is no stopping, no matter how many dishes I need to do, washing loads I need to put on or bums I have to change! I am not stopping until I have achieved my goal of completing my ‘PH’ and being Dr Gough.