Emily Gray

BA (Hon) degree in Sociology in 2002 and an MA in Social Research methods (Cultural Studies & Sociology) in 2005.

Emily Gray

"I found both of my courses challenging for varying reasons. Intellectually they challenged the way I thought about the social world and led me to question my own place within the social world."

Who are you currently working for and what is your job title?

I am a lecturer in Education Studies at RMIT University.

Why did you originally apply to Birmingham?

Birmingham's reputation as a centre of excellence for sociology and especially cultural studies. Also at the time I was unable to move away from the Midlands and so having such an amazing institution on my doorstep was a real pull.

What are the main benefits of studying Sociology at Birmingham?

At the time I studied my sociology BA at Birmingham, there were a group of truly inspirational educators at Birmingham who introduced me to see of the theories that have remained with me since that time. I was also inspired by my time at Birmingham to follow an academic career trajectory.

Did you find the Sociology programme at Birmingham challenging or easy?

I found both of my courses challenging for varying reasons. Intellectually they challenged the way I thought about the social world and led me to question my own place within the social world. I have to admit though that the hardest part for me was the statistics module I took during my MA - me and maths are sworn enemies!

How does the study of sociology continue to impact on your life / experiences?

As a full-time academic teaching within Education Studies I engage with sociology on a daily basis - so I guess it is a part of my identity now.

What advice would you give to current students studying sociology

I am unfamiliar with the modules currently on offer at Birmingham but as a former student and as a current educator I would encourage students to choose the modules they are most interested in and to do their readings!

Did you find the University or your degree helpful to you in getting your first job?

I did not get help for the careers centre. My first job after graduating was as a learning Support Assistant in a local school - the fact that I had a degree was appealing to the school. I later returned to Birmingham to complete my MA and unsuccessfully tried to obtain ESRC funding to complete my PhD - I later did get funding from another university. I now live and work in Melbourne, Australia. I have found though that the sociology at Birmingham name carries weight both nationally and internationally and should stand any student in good stead.

What are your fondest memories of the University?

My fondest memories are of the stimulating intellectual environment, supportive staff - particularly Yvonne and Marie the administrators - and, most importantly, of the wonderful friends I made whilst there.

How did you grow as a person by coming to University?

Coming to university did change my life - I found my niche as it were and have gone on to pursue a career in academia

What did you think of the learning experience within the University?

The modules that related to gender and sexuality have been most valuable to me in terms of where my own research interests lie. During my BA I remember two modules in particular that were about the sociology of the city - one was 'Urban Cultures' I think, taught by the late, great Michael Green: http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/2011/feb/07/michael-green-obituary

How has your career developed since graduating from the University of Birmingham?

Since graduating from my MA in 2005 I went on to a PhD at Lancaster University in Educational Research, my thesis looked at the experiences of lesbian, gay and bisexual teachers. Whilst in the final stages of my PhD I moved from the UK to Lismore, Australia where I picked up some casual teaching at Southern Cross University. Earlier this year I took a permanent position at RMIT University in Melbourne and currently teach across five Education Studies courses (modules). I am currently trying to publish from my PhD as well as undertaking a new research project looking at forms of resistance in an online fan fiction community.

What is the best thing about what you are doing now?

Moving to Australia has been a wonderful experience and I love my life here. I am excited about future research projects and writing my own courses for the first time next year. I really enjoy interacting with students and am happy to have found my way into education.