...with Clare Kinsella
Where are you living now and what are you doing?
I live in Aintree, about 15 minutes from the college on foot, with my husband and my son, who is 11. I work at Edge Hill University in Ormskirk where I am Senior Lecturer in Criminology.
What have you been doing since you left the college?
That’s a long time to cover… I left Archbishop Beck in 1991; I initially went to the University of Liverpool to study French and Spanish but realised quite quickly that it wasn’t for me. I dropped out and took a series of jobs – some were good and some not so good – and eventually got an office job in the finance office of the University of Liverpool (strange coincidence). Throughout this time I’d done bits and bobs of courses with the Open University as I still harboured ideas about getting a degree. I had been working as a wages clerk for just over two years when my beloved Mum was killed in an accident. My Mum had been my absolute world and my life fell completely apart. However, I started to think a lot about the type of life my Mum would like me to have if she could choose for me and, because I had inherited some money, I decided to leave work and go back to uni.
What and where did you study after your A Levels?
I got accepted onto the Critical Criminology and Women’s Studies degree programme at Edge Hill University and started in September 1999. This turned out to be the best decision I ever made, as it resulted in a first class honours degree, a masters with distinction, a PhD (from the University of Liverpool, another coincidence!), my career, my husband (who started out as a colleague), and ultimately my son.
What Primary school did you attend?
St Francis de Sales in Walton. I grew up on City Road, very close to Goodison Park.
What are your memories of your time at the college?
Really fond memories… I was introduced to modern languages and I took to them really quickly (I once got 100% in a French exam at school; I still tell people that!), I was inspired by really excellent teachers, my favourites being Ms Rowe (French and Spanish), Mr Murray (English), Mr Garner (History), Mrs Stalker (Dance), and Mrs Higham, who was my form teacher for three years, and I made new friendships and deepened others – my dearest friends are Phillipa Malone nee Howard, who I met at the college and is now a primary school teacher, and Sharyn Duffey nee Kinder, who I had known from St Francis de Sales and now works in consultancy in relation to education provision. Some of the learning strategies I was taught at the college I still use now, like Mr White’s revision technique of gradually reducing down pages and pages of notes to one A5 sheet, and Mr Murray’s mantra of ‘go for the throat’ when writing essays. These are techniques that I now encourage in my own students.
I consider myself lucky to have been educated at Archbishop Beck – my time there was not perfect, but it was fun, warm, inspiring and challenging. I would not change things for the world.
Our A Level students are about to take their A Level Examinations, any advice to them?
I think my advice to all students would be that it is a long life – it is really easy to believe that making the wrong decision when e.g. choosing subjects will end in disaster. All the decisions we make, whether right or wrong, teach us something that we can learn from. I would say, once you work out what you really want from life, don’t take your eyes off the prize; you might have to make sacrifices and you will definitely have to work hard, but the sense of achievement you get at the end really is worth it.
What would you like to be doing in 5 years time?
Hopefully I will have published my book, and will be leading bigger research projects on my specialisms, which are cities, culture, housing and regeneration, specifically in relation to Liverpool.