A Mum-of-two has undergone a dramatic career change, swapping working as a manager at a fast food chain for writing her PhD thesis.
After losing her mother in a car accident, 35-year-old Georgina Spencer realised that life was too short to stay in a career that left her unfulfilled. Just four days after giving birth to her second child, she began an access to higher education course in health at her local college.
A year later, she attended an Edge Hill Open Day after hearing about the University’s Counselling and Psychotherapy degree.
“I instantly felt drawn towards the campus,” she says. “The students and staff were all really welcoming and the campus itself is so beautiful and inviting. I knew instantly that this is where I wanted to come and didn’t apply anywhere else, which I knew was a big risk. I remember working harder than I’ve ever worked before to achieve a position by researching counselling and the particular therapeutic approach that Edge Hill teaches in advance and I made sure that my personal statement was the best it could be. I think I did around 20 drafts!
“When I was waiting for my UCAS update, deep down I always felt I wasn’t good enough to make it to University. My schooling experience was not a pleasant one and I felt people did not believe in me, so I really gave up trying and did not get great grades. When I found out I had been accepted at Edge Hill I was overjoyed, I felt as though someone was giving me a chance, a new start in life. Finally I felt someone believed in me.”
Having felt disillusioned at school, Georgina describes her time at University as an amazing, life-changing experience.
“Edge Hill tutors really value you as a person and take time to listen and understand your needs and wishes and their support gave me the confidence I needed to push myself beyond my limits. My degree course was absolutely incredible – the experiential and emotion-focused approach really fits with my beliefs; I gained so much knowledge and met some fantastic friends along the way. I am now a fully qualified to practice, competent and confident therapist, who is able to fully integrate theory with practice. I never imagined that I would ever achieve a degree, never mind a first class.”
After finishing her undergraduate degree, Georgina decided she wanted to stay at Edge Hill for further study.
“I remember seeing one of my tutors in their floppy PhD hat at graduation and saying to myself – ‘I want to reach that milestone, I can do that’. I needed more experience to obtain a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) position, so I decided to register on the full time Psychology Masters course. Edge Hill had provided me with so much confidence that going anywhere else was not an option!”
During that year, Georgina also worked as a voluntary children’s therapist in a primary school as well as within her own private practice at home. She also acted as a visiting lecturer and guest speaker on several Edge Hill courses including Counselling and Psychotherapy, Child Health and Wellbeing and Nutrition and Health to enhance her CV and skills.
“The Psychology Masters really tested my agility and resilience as an academic and taught me time management, giving me the skills to become a GTA,” Georgina says.
In September this year, Georgina became a GTA at Edge Hill. Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTA) hold a unique position in the Faculty of Health and Social Care, being both registered students and carrying out teaching/teaching support. Graduate Teaching Assistants are classed as full-time PhD students and the position is for three years.
“I am really enjoying both the teaching aspect and having the opportunity to research one particular subject at such depth. My project is still in its early stages, but I’m hoping to use Action Research methodology to explore the causes and consequences to stress and burnout alongside a multidisciplinary team in a North West Accident & Emergency department to collaboratively create and develop sustainable solutions.
“I have been teaching within the Counselling and Psychotherapy Program on the Experiential Processes (Personal Development) module with first years. This was one of the key modules that I really valued in my own training, so being able to teach this really helps me to bring passion to my teaching. I look forward to what the future brings.”