Erin Gillespie, Class medal winner
- Erin Gillespie, Class medal winner
Erin Gillespie, Class medal winner
My name is Erin Gillespie and I graduated with distinction, and was awarded the class medal for my academic achievements, in May 2018. I am Canadian, and I’ve worked outside of Canada for over 20 years. I’ve worked in Hong Kong for ten years at an international school, and after graduation I was promoted to being a subject leader, and I'm now leading two subjects in my department at an international school in Hong Kong.
I was motivated to apply to this program in order to advance my career; I have tried to summarize my experience from the perspective of being a full-time working parent and balancing this wonderful degree course.
Quality of instruction and real-world relevance of the material covered in the course modules:
For me, these were the most important “deciding” factors. The assignments we did were up to the minute; for example, we researched Twitter and had to form an argument about related to how it can profit from tweets. I was not strong in finance or global marketing when I began the program; I didn’t have a background in financial management and I didn’t have experience managing international clients! I shouldn’t have worried so much; the content steadily builds and you’re not expected to be “the expert” in the beginning! By the time I was working on my dissertation I felt, and still feel, very confident researching and discussing areas that truly were new to me at the time.
Access to learning materials was reliable:
The blend of using the HKUSpace satellite campus, local tutors, and the intensive lecturing weekends balanced out very well. I never felt overwhelmed because the intensive lectures never overlapped with due dates for other modules. I used the online library through EdNap without any issues.
Access to professors and communication with the local tutors was clear:
All of the academics lecturing in the courses were approachable both in-person and online; they would respond to online questions within a very reasonable amount of time. In fact, some tutors were added to mobile-based group chats, like WhatsApp, for even easier access. Also, the course Moodle is simple to navigate and stocked with learning materials.
Your classmates will become your friends:
I’m still in an online group with my cohort, and we keep tabs on each other here and there. I suggest nominating someone to form a group using an online tool you are all comfortable with. It’ll be really helpful for questions and to discuss assignment expectations. I know I lost an important template file once, and within minutes of asking I had it emailed to me by a classmate. Also, your classmates “get it”. Your classmate sympathize when others in your life just can’t relate – we certainly shared memes and jokes along the way, and there was no sense of competition at all!
To keep in touch with the university I use LinkedIn - I’ve also made many professional connections and had several job offers based on alumni connections and suggestions!
Academic-Personal Life balance:
I’d like all of you to know that the program ran perfectly, but my personal life certainly did not. I dealt with two extremely difficult personal challenges during the degree. The university was nothing short of fantastic in helping me during this time. I was guided through the process of how to take a leave of absence, my professors wrote me emails of support, and my classmates also reached out to support me. I never expected anything difficult to happen to me – nobody does – and I can’t explain how great it felt to return to the program and to be welcomed by a new-to-me cohort six-months later. It was amazing, actually. This is a warm and caring university; everyone here wants you to succeed; you are more than a number or a statistic here. If you need to take some time off for personal reasons, it is possible, and you will be welcomed back in a kind and respectful manner.
Moving to a Canadian doctoral program!
I’d like you all to know that the academic standards of Edinburgh Napier are I held in high regard on a global level. My academic experience exceeded my expectations; I learned and grew so much during the research module and dissertation stages. I recently accepted a placement in a Canadian doctoral program. My acceptance letter mentioned my performance in Edinburgh Napier's rigorous academic program and how it prepared me for work at the doctoral level.
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