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Class of 2021: From Sunderland to Vietnam – Adam goes international

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Published on 08 July 2021

Adam McDade
Adam McDade

After spending more than 10 years studying and working at the University of Sunderland, Adam McDade is moving on.

But never one to do things by halves, Adam, whose PhD was based around tattooing, is not only celebrating achieving his doctorate, he’s now planning to move more than 6,000 miles away.

To be precise, Dr McDade is heading to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam where he will be taking up a lecturer in Design Studies role at RMIT, a global university of technology and design in the city.

Adam, 31, from Sunderland, is hoping to fly out at the end of August with a view to possibly starting his new role in October.

Although he has a lot to do before then, including graduating with his PhD Design doctorate, and the small matter of marrying long-term girlfriend, Heather.

Adam said: “We’re hoping to get married before we both go out there to start a new life.

“It’s an incredibly exciting opportunity and South East Asia has always felt like a home to me, so this was too good to pass.”

In fact, the opportunity came about with a little help from another former University of Sunderland lecturer, Dr Manny Ling, who was Programme Leader for MA Design and Adam’s former PhD supervisor.

Adam said: “Manny moved to RMIT at the end of last year. Then this new position came up and he got in touch with me. He knew all about my love of Vietnam and how much I wanted to live and work there.

Adam studied both foundation and BA (Hons) Illustration and Design at Sunderland and was so impressed with the standard of teaching, he chose to continue his studies here, studying both MA Design and a PhD.

He went on to lecture at the University while also working part-time at Sunderland-based tattoo studio, Triplesix Studios.

Adam’s PhD thesis `Beyond the Epidermis’ was conducted in partnership with studio. It was described by examiners as “the most in-depth, detailed and considered first-person account of tattoo practice in the academic literature”.

Having lived in the North East all his life, Adam is now preparing for a new chapter.

He said: “My family have been incredibly supportive and they know how much this all means to me.

“In total, I have spent more than 10 years at the University of Sunderland and I will miss it. It’s the best thing about Sunderland and I have learned so much along the way.

“It is the University that has kept me here and I will be forever grateful for the opportunities it has given me.”

Once settled in Vietnam, Adam is hoping to continue his passion for tattooing as a hobby.

He added: “If I could sum up my experience of studying at the University of Sunderland, it would be an opportunity to study under kind-hearted, authentic guidance."