In 2006 I stepped first on Salford grounds. It was a long journey having to deal with registration, games, prizes, new colleagues and tutors before I settled into life as a Salford Business School student. My head was buzzing, but what I often recall is one evening at work in a movie rental store in Curry Mile Manchester. Nothing unusual – computers switched on, clients around, and my friends, who came to keep me company. A couple interrupted the routine asking for a poster. I asked them to return in a week and they walked towards the front door. Suddenly the guy turned around and joyfully said: “I know you, I know you – you are Cristina from Romania. I know you from the University of Salford”. My friends burst into laughter and ever since I remained ‘Cristina from Romania’ 🙂
Beyond that, my journey sparked a wave of feelings, it was overwhelming but exciting, it was the beginning of a new world but I dreamed everyday of my graduation ceremony, the colour of my suit (!) and the highest ‘marks’.
As an international student, with only one year of formal English training I had tears in my eyes after each class of listening to what it seemed to me another foreign language: CSS, HTML, Object-oriented. I used to sit in the library for hours reading book titles to become familiar with prolific authors and concepts in my subject area… I felt disabled but day after day what seemed to be a disability it become an inclusion mechanism: I asked questions, I was supported and guided by tutors, I enjoyed the company of lovely colleagues with whom – 8 years on – we still see each other at least once a year.
As time passed and my knowledge and network expanded my hopes become bigger and bolder… The colour of my suit remained important (!) but I was keen to achieve more than a degree. I started to be involved in various projects such as web design, ecommerce and marketing. My knowledge flourished – in 2007 when Jason Gambert attempted to trademark the term SEO – I used to explore and implement the concept of manipulating keywords and design technicalities – no Google caffeine, Panda or Penguin though 😉 .
After graduating in 2009, I was accepted on a 2 years KTP (Knowledge Transfer Partnership) role at the end of which, I was offered a PhD scholarship with the School of Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work & Social Sciences. I was keen to explore how social media could be used to increase patient information provision but also to highlight the engagement ingredients, which activate positive health outcomes. I wrote 7 proposals before I finally decided to develop and evaluate GMKIN. My supervisors deserve an award for having to listen and guide an otherwise stubborn student!
The lessons I’d share: (1) never write 7 proposals & (2) your thesis cannot change the whole world, (3) write, read, write, (4) connect, network & enjoy PhD life & (5) be passionate! Last, but not least, we have an extraordinary cultural diversity within our School. Take time to chat, learn and celebrate!
During my graduation day, or second graduation day, (the colour of my suit was no longer important !) in reply to my tweet “Is this the end of a journey or a new beginning??” I received a reply that made me ponder on: “It’s just the start Cristina”.
Indeed, recently I started my new role as a Research Fellow in Digital Media and Health. It is just a new start – to do research with real life impact, to contribute to – otherwise well known – digital presence of our School, to publish in one of the highest impact journals, to improve my confidence… & the waltz goes on .
…And to follow on Emma’s challenge posted last week, I will add a drawing given to me by Lindsay Upton, a member of GMKIN. Perhaps Lindsay (who sadly passed away couple of months ago) has seen the ‘wolf’ in me. Her thoughts on happiness are still music to my ears…
— GMKIN (@GMKINet) January 28, 2015
Research Fellow in digital and social media in health| School of Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work and Social Sciences7 Comments