Case study

Ready to take on the world

There was a time when Danielle Roe lacked confidence. She comes from a small village and was homeschooled. But, having completed our MRes in Social Sciences and Humanities, she now feels ready to take on the world.

Good enough

Danielle remembers asking her undergraduate lecturers if she was ‘good enough’ for a masters degree. “I think it’s a very natural thing to worry about,” she says. “That everybody else is going to be way cleverer than I am.”

What added to Danielle’s concerns was that she was coming from a Business area – she studied BA (Hons) Event Management. “But my brilliant personal tutor, Olivia Ramsbottom, put my mind at ease and gave me a massive confidence boost,” she says.

Danielle then attended a postgraduate open evening and talked to her future lecturers, which sealed the deal. She says: “It was a very simple decision to undertake my MRes at Derby, purely because of how easy the University made everything.”

A perfect course

It helped that we had seemingly created a perfect masters course for her. During her undergraduate studies, Danielle discovered her true passion: understanding society. And Olivia had helped Danielle tailor her undergraduate independent study to explore inter-community tensions at Pride events. The topic is one that she explores in more depth on her MRes.

Danielle explains: “I had already been accepted on to another masters programme when I saw the course profile for the MRes in Social Sciences and Humanities. It was as if Derby had created a course specifically for me.

“And, at Derby, I know that the students are the main priority of the staff and that I would receive personal tutoring to continue to build my confidence.”

Danielle Roe working on a laptop

A natural step

For Danielle, progression to postgraduate study proved to be a natural step. She explains: “In terms of the difference between study in an undergraduate level and then at post-grad, it was a little bit of a step up but you’re guided along the way.

“After a couple of weeks, you really do get used to it. It just becomes natural and, because you're doing a subject that you love, it's not really like doing work. You’re like: ‘I would read this anyway.’

“And you share that knowledge with people so it really is a great environment for learning, borrowing ideas, sharing it with your lecturers, building your confidence.”

And her early fears of being overwhelmed by ‘cleverer’ students from criminology and sociology backgrounds proved unfounded. She says: “We all just bring something a little bit unique, see things from different perspectives. And we can build that into our own research so that's been a massive benefit, not a negative, in fact, and I really enjoy that part of the course.”

Favourite things

Danielle loved that the masters reading list was longer and provided more of a challenge than at undergraduate level. She also enjoyed engaging in debate with lecturers about the literature they had read to help develop her critical academic voice.

And she had the chance to meet people from different courses and disciplines during weekly masterclasses organised for postgraduate students by Sociology and Social Policy Lecturer Dr Sung-Hee Lee.

But she adds: “My favourite thing about postgraduate study is that lecturers truly encourage me to challenge what they are saying to advance both my own and their understanding of complex theories.”

Growing in confidence

Choosing Derby for her undergraduate and masters courses has prepared Danielle for her next challenge – a PhD at the University of Birmingham.

She says: “Being homeschooled and coming from a small village, I didn’t truly feel confident enough to go to a huge university to undertake my masters.

“Now, I feel like I can take on the world and I owe that to the support the University of Derby has given me over the past four years. I have matured both academically and personally, and am ready to take my next step with confidence.”

PG Student speaking to career advisor

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