PhD Candidate, Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge
What made you choose Middlesex University?
I had an A-typical route into education as I was 28 years old, hadn't done an access course but had decided I wanted to study Law. Middlesex University was the only university that offered me the opportunity to present my case at interview. On the strength of my interview, I got a place on the LLB programme.
What attracted you to your course and made you apply?
I knew that I wanted to study for a degree and having gone through various situations in my personal life where knowing and understanding the Law would have been beneficial, I was particularly drawn to Law and learning more about it. I had no preconceptions about the course - it just felt like the right degree for me.
Law is a good, solid degree and opens up many different avenues beyond just entering the legal profession. It teaches you how to think analytically and debate so is never a degree that will do you any harm as the discipline it teaches is applicable to many different professional paths.
What aspects of your course did you enjoy most?
I enjoyed all of it! I absolutely loved studying Law. I enjoyed the mock trials and learning how the Law operates. It's difficult to pinpoint just one aspect as the whole course was life-changing for me. It really helped me to learn more about myself and decide on my chosen vocation. It was a really transformative experience and doing a degree in my late 20s was right for me as had I decided to study earlier, I may have chosen a different path.
What is your fondest memory of life at Middlesex?
I had really great lecturers, some of whom are still with Middlesex. They were really encouraging and inspiring. They saw my potential and really helped me to develop it and grow in confidence.
What one piece of advice would you give to a prospective student interested in studying at Middlesex?
Work hard, make the most of your time at Middlesex and plan ahead. You really need to make sure you enjoy what you are studying, particularly when studying for a degree like Law. A big pitfall for many students is they study what they think they ought to study rather than what they are passionate about. If you are passionate about what you are doing, you will get better results on the degree and long-term.
How did your course and time at Middlesex help you to get where you are today?
I'm in my third year of my PhD and my dissertation at Middlesex, which focussed on prison visits and Human Rights, was the genesis of my PhD topic. My time at Middlesex therefore played a pivotal role in helping me get where I am today. It made me realise how much I loved academia and my passion for Law. Because I did well in my degree at Middlesex I went straight to a PhD without doing a masters in between.
What made you choose the industry you work in and what are its pros and cons?
I chose to enter academia because being paid to think is a real luxury. I really enjoy the autonomy, the intellectual engagement and stimulation. I love empirical research so for me, academia appealed more than going into the legal profession. I suppose a con would be the fact you have to travel around a lot!
What has been your defining career break or highlight to date?
The day I graduated from Middlesex was one defining moment for me as was the day I finally finished my PhD fieldwork and finally felt like a proper researcher.
What does the future hold for you?
Hopefully a Postdoctoral Fellowship. I want to stay in academia and maintain my focus on research, although I have done some teaching and will probably do some more.
What are the top three career tips you would give to current students and recent graduates?
Try to follow your passion but don't be disheartened if you don't get to where you want to be straight away. Do the jobs you need to do to earn money but never lose sight of your dream. Also make sure you network – this is really important. My decision to apply to my supervisor at Cambridge was the result of a chance meeting at a dinner party with someone who suggested I apply to the Institute of Criminology. Don't feel afraid to sell yourself and recognise the skills you have developed. You can be sure others won't be afraid to put themselves forward. You don't win any prizes for holding back.
What one piece of advice would you give to the 17/18 year old you?
Give yourself time to really get to know yourself before making any big decisions. Once you know who you are, you will have a better idea of what path is right for you.