Valeria is studying the MSc in Health Psychology. She wanted to study at a top university in London with a robust Psychology programme.
Your motivations, drivers and challenges
What was your main motivation to undertake postgraduate study?
My main motivation was to further my education and therefore add to my skill set. I wanted to gain knowledge and experience that I can use to advance my career in psychology. Learning more about Health Psychology will help me create interventions for students in need by using a different lens than my peers would. I think that this will give me an edge in my chosen field.
What were the factors that influenced your decision making when considering postgraduate study?
I wanted to attend a top university in London with a robust psychology programme. I was looking for a course that prioritised student experiences and offered the resources I needed to excel in the classroom.
What were, if any, the main challenges that affected your decision about postgraduate study? How did you overcome them?
I always knew I wanted to pursue postgraduate study in the field of Psychology. I just never knew 'when' exactly that would be. So I guess the biggest challenge for me was finding the right time in my career to apply that made most sense.
Why did you choose City? What made you decide City was the right university for you?
I jumped for joy when I found out I got into City. I had done extensive research on postgraduate degrees in London, and learned that City had a reputation for being a top University in the UK. When I visited City, I was attracted by the overall vibe of the campus. When I researched the faculty, I was amazed by how accomplished my future professors were. Learning from them has truly felt like a privilege and makes me feel like I made the right decision.
Your student experience
What has been your student experience at City so far?
I've made the most of the opportunities City offers. I am student representative and love the responsibility of representing students and empowering them. I am also a part of the UniMentor scheme (Widening Participation projects) which has been such a learning experience. Every Tuesday, I get to mentor a student from a neighbouring school and help her bridge the poverty gap affecting her education. I'm showing her the tools and giving her the confidence she needs to apply for higher education. Apart from my extra-curricular activities, my classes have been extremely engaging and my assessments challenging. I feel as if I'm gaining skills that I will be able to use for life - such as critical thinking, analysing data and reading/writing skills.
How studying a postgraduate degree has helped you develop personally and professionally?
Personally, I feel like my own boss. I love being in charge of my own schedule and making the best use of my time. I've also never had the opportunity to meet such like-minded individuals before. The classmates I've met through my course have instantly become some of my closest friends. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that we chose City and are studying Health Psychology - both unique in their own right.
Professionally, I've learned to balance a lot on my plate. From all the reading and writing my course demands to setting up a lesson plan for my mentee - my day is always buzzing with tasks to do.
What opportunities and experiences City has offered you during your course?
City has given me the opportunity to learn from experts in their field and engage with like-minded individuals. I've also enjoyed the experience of living as a postgraduate student in London - a multicultural and exciting city!
What advice would you give to people thinking about postgraduate study? What would you have liked to know then that you know now?
Open your eyes and ears to the opportunities around you. Postgraduate study only takes a year and you want to look back and think that you made the most of your experience. Take leadership roles that will help you thrive in the workplace and don't be afraid to ask as many questions as you want during lectures. This is your time to gain as much knowledge as possible in a relatively short amount of time. You will never have this experience again. Being a student is truly a blessing.
What are your career plans once you have completed your postgraduate degree?
My plan is to move back to the US and attend a graduate course in School Psychology. I hope that merging my knowledge in Health Psychology will help me excel in this programme to then become the best school psychologist I can be.
How do you think City has equipped you for the next stage in your career journey?
Academic staff here at City have taught me to think outside the box and to challenge ideas that are widely accepted by the social norm. To ask questions like ‘is it backed by theory?’ or when critically analysing a research article to ask ‘do the numbers add up?’ I have learned not to take things at face value, which I believe to be a very solid skill that I will take with me on my career journey.