On 4 March 2015, the Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC) at Middlesex University turns 25. Since it was founded in 1990, the SPRC has conducted groundbreaking research on topics such as drugs and migration for the benefit of vulnerable communities in the UK and abroad. In this three-part series, we meet the Middlesex University alumni who have not only been inspired throughout their careers by the work of the SPRC but have themselves played a key role in the Centre's journey.
Dr Shanna Marrinan
For the third and final feature in this series, we look at Middlesex alumna Dr Shanna Marrinan, and find out what inspired her to work in social policy, and what her time at Middlesex has meant for her career.
"My work on social policy with Middlesex gave me the knowledge I needed to be able to do both my jobs now" - Dr Shanna Marrinan
Shanna is an independent consultant for University College London, currently based within the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST). Her role at POST means that she is responsible for providing expert advice on social policy research to parliamentarians in a way that is digestible to both that audience and members of the public.
The Economic and Social Research Council have been fundamental to Shanna's career to date. Until September 2013, POST had no formal department for social research, but with ESRC funding, more time and resource can now be dedicated to social science research. This research currently has Shanna working on a briefing report for measuring living standards.
On top of working in POST for UCL, Shanna also lectures in social policy once a week at the IES. Shanna enjoys the variation this gives her work, as well as the opportunity to share what she has learnt.
Studying at Middlesex
Despite not originally intending to go to university, speaking with a tutor at Middlesex on an open day inspired Shanna, and she immediately enrolled on BA Latin America Studies. Shanna enjoyed her undergraduate degree so much that she went on to do both MA Social Policy and later a PhD, on gender and migration for HIV risk, at Middlesex.
"I was so happy through all my years at Middlesex," she says. "I decided to become a student ambassador, and even worked at the University for a year after I finished my PhD."
Shanna's desire for her work to have meaningful impact on the world was what encouraged her to study social policy. Through social policy, Shanna felt she would be given to the tools with which to impact change in areas where she thought it most important. The knowledge, as well as the connections and experience, that she gained during her master's and PhD at Middlesex gave Shanna the basis she needed to step into her current role at UCL.
"My work on social policy with Middlesex gave me the knowledge I needed to be able to do both my jobs now, but also gave me a great grounding in the research methods that I use and teach now, as well as a great awareness of the issues," Shanna explains.
Throughout her PhD Shanna was also a foster carer for Camden Social Services. With up to three children staying with her at a time, Shanna says this inspiring effort certainly taught her how to manage time and prioritise, but also that, regardless of your background or your circumstances, you can still study and achieve amazing things.
The SPRC anniversary is taking place on 4 March 2015. For more information on this event click here.