Lauren Ward

From Undergrad to future Doctor, Lauren Ward takes us through her inspiring journey here at the University of Northampton.

Lauren Ward is currently undertaking a PhD and working as a Research Assistant at the Institute for Public Safety, Crime and Justice at the University of Northampton. She began her journey in 2007 when she started her undergraduate degree in Psychology.

“I studied a degree in Psychology at the University of Northampton, and then proceeded onto the Child and Adolescent Mental Health MSc. I thankfully gained £3,000 from various funding bodies (including the University’s own Chancellor’s Fund) so I could pursue postgraduate study. I then applied for a Graduate Teaching position at the University, which meant that my PhD would be funded.

“In my role at the Institute, I am responsible for Front Line Voices, exploring the experience of being a Police Officer and Firefighter within Northamptonshire. I have various responsibilities within the project such as:

  • Grant writing
  • Reviewing submissions for conferences organized by the institute
  • Organising and conducting interviews for research projects
  • Communicating with others outside of the organisation, including other organisations (such as Northamptonshire Police and Fire and Rescue Service)
  • Attending research groups, delivering talks.

“I find working on a worthwhile project the most beneficial thing. Getting experience of what research can ‘do’ for people, and how it can be used to produce real life change. I found transitioning from being a lecturer within academia to a researcher challenging initially, because of the differing environments.

“I worked very hard to get access to academia, working several jobs (including one as a Psychology Lecturer at a local college) to demonstrate my commitment. I started as a Mental Health Support Assistant within a local college. After one year I needed a new challenge, so continued to knock on the door of the Psychology Department, starting with 2 hours going up to 15 hours within 1 year. In this time I also did some marking for the University as an Associate Lecturer, and worked as an Applied Behavioural Analysis tutor to get experience working with children.

“I strongly believe being within the university (both professionally and academically) put me at a strong advantage to securing the Graduate Assistantship contract.

“I studied here right from degree, and I think the support from the lecturing staff within Psychology has been invaluable. They really pushed me to achieve, and provided me with several opportunities to progress professionally and educationally.”

Lauren also got heavily involved in extra-curricular activities at the University “I was a member of the women’s football team, I definitely think they helped me fit in socially. I recently volunteered to organise a free student conference which attracted over150 students from as far as Germany, Ireland and Spain. It afforded them with multiple opportunities, from presenting their own work to publishing their work in our associated special edition open access journal.

“I would always say to a potential student: Never give up, do not let finances be your only barrier; use the Educational Grants Directory in your local library to help you. The University of Northampton is a supportive and helpful institution. My experience of my time here has been inspiring.”

Follow Lauren on Twitter @Psych_ofEmoFeel or Lauren8Ward, or find her on Academia.edu: Lauren Ward, University of Northampton.