Case study

Dancing dream becomes GREAT reality

Bua Khemacheva was inspired by friends to study for a masters in Dance Psychotherapy. And her dream was made possible thanks to a University of Derby GREAT scholarship.

From Thailand to London - to dancing in Derby

Bua, who grew up in Bangkok, Thailand, already has a masters in Museum Studies. She studied this in London through a Thai government scholarship. 

Her other passion is dancing and she was keen to explore its therapeutic effects. She says: “I first became interested in creative art therapies when I saw how some of my close friends used them to support the wellbeing of themselves and those around them. I have personally felt the therapeutic effect of dance and wanted to develop my skill in this area – it felt like a great combination.” 

Bua was attracted to the MA in Dance Therapy at Derby because of the expertise of the lecturers. “They offered a broad range of experience to bring to their teaching – working with young people, older adults, eating disorders and mental health – which appealed to me. I also thought the assessments were creative, and there’s a substantial amount of time dedicated to clinical practice to gain experience.” 

Scholarship hunt

After receiving her offer to study at Derby, Bua began to investigate scholarship options. “I read the stories of other students who had applied, how they felt unsure of their abilities. I felt the same at the time, but these students inspired me. These people had their self-doubts just like me, but they applied anyway, so I did too.”  

Bua applied for the GREAT scholarship, which provides funding for postgraduate students from a selected group of countries. As part of the application, she was required to write an essay and she contacted tutors to find out more about the course. The application offered her the chance to really assess why she was choosing to study within this field. 

“To me, creativity means wellbeing. Our recent times raise the importance of mental health and, therefore, there is no greater time to join this much needed profession. I want to be able to help other people.” 

GREAT success

And he reaction when she heard her scholarship application had been successful? “I was ecstatic," she says, "as was my family. It really lifted the financial burden on me and my family. Alongside that, it provided me with validation, that my aspirations were also being acknowledged.’  

Bua sits looking at her work together with a female friend whilesmiling
Bua, right, studying with a friend

At home in Derby

Having lived in the bustling streets of Bangkok and London, Bua was looking for a change. And she has found that in Derby. “It is less stressful,” she explains. “It is a cosy and pleasant place to live and study.”

Despite many things to think about when moving country, alongside the uncertainties Covid brought, Bua felt instantly settled and at home in Derby. She has also found plenty of support. "I feel very supported by the University, by my tutors, but mostly because I see all of the support options that are available to me as I walk around campus. It is easy for me to approach someone if I have a problem," she says. 

Bua hopes to have opportunities for a range of work experience while studying, alongside her clinical practice. She will also involve herself in societies, sharing her story, supporting prospective students, and getting to know other students from all areas of the world to learn about their background and draw upon their knowledge. ”I am part of the Walking Society. I love taking part in long walks, meeting new people, and seeing all areas of Derby and its countryside." 

Combining skills for the future

Bua has plans to combine her previous background in museums with her new skills. She hopes to "further integrate the practice of therapy and dance into social settings, expanding the accessibility and reducing the stigma".  

"I love the course I am studying now and the direction I’ll be going after graduating. Being accepted onto the course here under the GREAT Scholarship is absolutely one of the biggest turning points in my life. This feels like the right place for me to be. I can’t express enough how grateful I am."