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Case Study

Joanne Comerford

After recovering from brain surgery, Joanne Comerford decided to further her career by studying MSc Psychology here at Sunderland in the hope of returning to a pastoral role in education.

I am recovering from a craniotomy to remove a brain tumour and was told I couldn’t return to my previous role in primary teaching. I am hoping to return to education in a pastoral role and also wanted to test my brain capability post surgery! I am a single mother and therefore wanted to complete the course within the year while I had the time, rather than the three-year part-time option. I decided to study at the University of Sunderland because it is my hometown and this is where I studied my previous degree.

The best aspects of the course are the synergy between experimental designs and psychological theory, and the opportunity to develop and implement your own research. The staff are experts in their field and the atmosphere around campus is inclusive and supportive of all students.

Due to my additional needs, I accessed the disabled student's support and found this extremely helpful. I received specialist software and training from the disabled student's fund and offers of counselling, which kept me on track when I was finding it difficult to keep up with the pace of the course. Without this extra support, and above and beyond encouragement and advice from my project supervisor and the course leader, I do not think I would have completed the programme.

I recommend anybody thinking of studying here to take advantage of the Open Days to have an opportunity to speak to staff and make sure the course matches your personal aspirations.

I am considering offers of pastoral work and hope to start a doctoral degree in the future, something I would not have considered before starting my master's degree. I've also recently started as an Educational Mental Health Practitioner, it's a trailblazer collaborative government scheme to improve children and young people's mental health, so I'm working for the Local Authority and NHS. There were only 35 positions from Scotland to Yorkshire and I was lucky enough to be successful - literally my dream job, and it wouldn't have been possible without my MSc.

The University of Sunderland has made me believe in my own abilities again."

Published 7 January 2019

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