Question 2: What pathway did you follow to get to where you are? What courses of study, or qualifications did you need?
As the first year to take GCSEs, I took the maximum eight and got all grades, ‘B’s and ‘C’s. But from there, my path is not a usual one. I eschewed taking A-levels to work for two years, but it meant I had a car before my peers had gone back to start their AS levels. However, science still beckoned and I began work as a Medical Laboratory Assistant in the Microbiology department of the Manor Hospital in Walsall.
Despite this being a ‘non-career’ post, they kindly allowed me to do a day release course. Hence, I gained a BTEC National Certificate in Science and got enough of an introduction to biology and physiology to rate it fascinating. This was enough to get me onto an accredited degree course at the University of Wolverhampton where I undertook a BSc in Biomedical Science, a pre-requisite for state-registration of Biomedical Scientists. During these courses, I continued looking at other branches of science and continued to join dots between them, even to the extent that my honours project touched on psychological elements. So, after 10 years, I left medical microbiology to join the psychology technical team at Aston University, Birmingham
Here I found opportunity to support research, gain experience in teaching and achieve certification for it too. While outreach opportunities fell to the academic staff to deliver, these activities had to compete with their heavy work schedules and I was asked to deliver some aspects for the department’s contribution to a summer school. I secretly enjoyed it more than my other teaching and within a couple of years, I was delivering upwards of 25 outreach sessions for the university annually.
In fact I enjoyed it so much that this is now chiefly the direction in which I am driving my career. In January 2011 I started to widen my network of fellow practitioners and in April 2012 formally registered a business for all my STEM activities, many undertaken outside of my regular employment. Aside from the joy I get from performing and teaching, one of its aims is to empower ambassadors, through training and advice, to impart their enthusiasm in the most creative, inspirational and effective way.