Thoughts From Our HUMSS 2015/16 Graduates…

Over the last few weeks universities around the UK have been hosting their summer graduations, and Keele is no exception. It is that time of year when students joined by family, friends and loved ones celebrate their fantastic achievements, and take pride knowing how much all of that hard work has paid off. Every year the HUMSS Faculty see the fruits of that labour in the success stories of our Postgraduate community, and it is truly wonderful to see the rewards that further study and research brings to these research students. This congratulatory blog post presents the voices of a handful of our many successful 2015/16 graduates from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences as we join them in celebrating their accomplishments and wish them all the very best for their future careers!



Dr. Chitra Jayathilake, January 2016

Dr. Chitra Jayathilake, PhD in English

Completing a doctoral research is not a simple or a short mission for anyone: yet, for me it was a journey through bravura, tenacity and much perseverance. This is not simply because I was an international student who had to leave her family, especially her only daughter and husband, miles away from Keele, but also because of the nature of the programme. However, the experiences at Keele and its effect will remain with me as an incredibly rewarding and ineffable experience – I am, and will be, proud of my ‘pride’ bestowed to me by Keele.

It would not have been as rewarding if it were not for the people and institutions to whom I owe a great debt for their intellectual guidance, invaluable support, motivation, understanding and love. Pursuing a PhD degree in the UK would have never been a reality, nor would have been possible even in the sphere of my dreams due to financial constraints had I not been awarded scholarships different sources, and more than three years of study-leave with remuneration from my home university in Sri Lanka – the University of Sri Jayewardenepura. It would have never been “Direct Award 1” and completed exactly within three and a six months without my supervisors – Dr Mariangela Palladino and Professor David Amigoni. I could not have wished for better supervisors and scholarly guides. Particularly, I am much in awe of Mariangela’s innate flair in reading ‘the unsaid’ in me and helping me to achieve my intentions. Her own scholarship, both in postcolonialism and cultural studies, continues to be inspirational to me, and I could not imagine a more stimulating and supportive friendship. “The examiners agreed that Chitra should be recommended for the award of a PhD, category 1” (Examiners’ Report).

Other academic members – especially, Anthony Carrigan, Scott McCracken, Nick Bentley, and Ceri Morgan – also helped me in different ways to reach my target. Today, I also feel really happy and honoured as David and Scot will be visiting my home university in November 2017 as Guest Speakers at the international conference I will be chairing.

What more do I have to expect from Keele!



Elizabeth Trafford, July 2016

Elizabeth Trafford, MPhil. in English

I greatly enjoyed my MPhil at Keele. My supervisors were extermely supportive and helped me pass without corrections. I want to continue with my research and aim to study for a PhD in American Literature, focusing on speculative, or what I call, consciousness fiction of the twentieth century.




Keele pic

Photo: Dr Gillian Buck with parents Linda and Edward Borg-Olivier and children Sebastian and Orla Buck , July 2016

Dr. Gillian Buck, PhD in Criminology

I graduated from Keele with a PhD in Criminology on the 13 July 2016. The day was a culmination of 4 of the hardest and most fascinating years of my life. I honestly feel and I have grown as a person at Keele and have become more reflective and effective in my work.

I thoroughly enjoyed graduation day at Keele. I am a mum of two young children (8 and 5) who both took the day off school to see the ceremony. They enjoyed their day in the sun and were fascinated by the ceremony. I hope it gave them something to aspire to. The research institute made us all really welcome with a lovely wine reception for graduates and guests (and biscuits and juice for the kids!).

The ceremony itself was also great, the Keele chapel is a perfect setting. One suggestion I would have would be to read out the titles of PhD research projects as awards are presented as I have seen this work well at other Universities.

Everyone I met at Keele on the day worked hard to make it a day to remember from the professional gowns staff to the friendly shop and cafe staff. I was also lucky enough to share the day with one of my best friends Dr Emma Murray (who studied and graduated alongside me) and my fabulous supervisor Dr Mary Corcoran.

Thanks again Keele.



Dr. Jo Taylor, July 2016

Dr. Jo Taylor, PhD in English

Our lovely graduation day was the perfect conclusion to my time at Keele. Keele will always mean a lot to me, and it was amazing to be able to share the close of my PhD with so many of the inspiring people – lecturers, admin staff and other students – that made my experience at Keele so enjoyable and fulfilling. A part of me can’t believe it’s all over, but the graduation ceremony was an excellent send off – and the HUMSS drinks reception didn’t hurt either (at least, not until the next morning). Thank you to everyone who organised the graduation celebrations, and to everyone I’ve come across at Keele. The PhD was a punishing, exhausting thing, but still the best thing I’ve ever done, and it wouldn’t have been what it was without the supremely intelligent people I did it with, and the stimulating, often off-the-wall conversations I had with them. I’ll miss you all – but, so long, and thanks for all the fish!



Dr. Kristian Shaw, July 2016

Dr. Kristian Shaw, PhD in English

I joined Keele as an AHRC funded PhD student in 2012. My supervisor, Nick Bentley, offered me constant encouragement and constructive criticism, ensuring my thesis passed with no corrections. The English team at Keele was extremely supportive and provided opportunities to teach on a range of undergraduate modules, as well as research/teacher training. This experience has proven to be vital in securing an academic position post-PhD and stands testament to the strength of the university faculty.



Dr. Robin Hadley, January 2016

Dr. Robin Hadley, PhD in Social Gerontology

The hard slog of my PhD culminated in a superb graduation day the recollection of which always evokes fond memories. That the day went so smoothly was in no small part down to staff that has always been so supportive.
It was a pleasure to introduce my family to all at the HUMSS pre-ceremony celebrations. A lovely afternoon tea in the elegant surroundings of Keele Hall followed gown-collection and official photographs. That I graduated with a friend who I met on my first day of my PhD made the day even more special. Post – ceremony was a plunge into a hubbub of the group photograph, catch up with supervisors, more photographs, stories shared, hands shaken, more excited chat before continuing the celebrations at the Hand and Trumpet.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s