After my A’levels way back in 1988, it became apparent that I had spent far too much of my 6th form at the local youth theatre and at parties! I had applied to Warwick University to do Psychology, but needed ABB, and my A’level grades were BCD. I was bitterly disappointed and so were my parents. However I got a place at my local Polytechnic (as it was then, now University of Hertfordshire) and graduated with a 2:1. During the course we were told that we were the worst year they had seen (not a morale boost) but on the plus side, I met my husband of 27 years on the same course.
I had planned to go into Clinical Psychology and applied for an MA in Nottingham. I didn’t get on. So I took a job as a Play Specialist which I loved at first, but which didn’t keep my academic interest piqued. Amazingly, news came through after a few months, that I had got a reserve place on the Nottingham course after all, and I really loved the year I spent doing it. However after the course, the early nineties was a time of recession, and I found it difficult to find a job. I applied for absolutely everything child related, and to the clinical psychology courses but to no avail, and was unemployed for 6 months. It felt as if I would never find a job, let alone establish a career. Eventually, I saw a post at Alder Hey (University of Liverpool) for a research associate post with pre-term children. I decided this would at least give me some relevant experience, but in fact this post was a real turning point for me – I quickly discovered that I absolutely loved research. Although I got an interview for a clinical course that year, I withdrew my application and registered for a PhD instead.
The rest, as they say, is history. I went on to work for 10 years as a research associate at Manchester (during which time I also had 3 children) before moving to City as a Reader, and later gaining promotion to Professor. In my journey there have been many times when I could not see the pathway forward, but it has always been there – just out of view!