Student Achievements

My success story: a personal account

Valentina DiaconuWith the right support, a lot of work, and the power of motivation, I landed my dream job and progressed to studying Educational Psychology at PhD level here, where my heart belongs: at the University of Northampton.

We have all heard that good things don’t come easy in life. Certainly, this was true for me. The undergraduate journey is beautiful, but not easy, especially through pandemic. I also had to go through repeated surgeries and treatments along the way. But every obstacle throughout this journey was preparing me for the best chapter of my life and motivated me to pursue my biggest dream: getting on a PhD programme and landing a teaching role at the university that changed my life. 

I transferred to UoN after studying a foundation year at a different university. When I first started studying UoN, I was not prepared for the warm, welcoming, and supportive environment I was about to experience. At every step I was encouraged, listened to, supported, and most importantly, seen! Seen as the person I was transforming into, seen as an individual, not as a number in a data set. Being ‘seen’ I think is the most important thing when you are a student, as it gives you the power to continue and the confidence that you are indeed becoming ‘someone’. Throughout my journey I achieved more than I ever thought I could, with outstanding support from lecturers and the UoN Psychology team. I perfected my research and public speaking skills and was invited to present my dissertation research project at the UoN Psychology 2nd Annual Research Conference in Summer 2021.

I remember that at the end of the third year, right after I submitted my last undergraduate assignment, I said to myself: ‘I am so relieved now that I have finished! Now I can finally…Oh my, I can now what? Go back to what exactly?’ I was already missing having a research project to work for, two minutes into what I thought it was ‘freedom’. I then realised that ‘freedom’ is when you are free to explore, to learn, to teach what you know, to contribute and to help humanity. Academia for me represents that ‘freedom’. Once I realised this, I grabbed the opportunity that UoN gave me, of studying educational psychology at PhD level, and teaching what I have always loved: Psychology.

I may not be perfect, but I am in the perfect place: the place that raised me and transformed me into a better person. I believe that good things happen when we have the right support. We do not succeed on our won, as for our success many people unite and work together. I will be forever grateful for the outstanding support and opportunity that UoN offered me.

Valentina Diaconu, PhD student and Graduate Teaching Assistant

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