Erika Jimenez will graduate today (Wednesday 4 July) with a PhD in Education
Erika Jimenez will today (Wednesday 4 July) graduate with a PhD in Education from the School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work at Queen’s University Belfast.
Erika, 33, originally from North Wales, completed her PhD in Education on Palestinian young people's perspectives and experiences of human rights, inside and outside schools.
Speaking about her PhD experience, Erika said: “The most enjoyable part of my PhD was the six months when I interviewed young people and their teachers in the Middle East, and worked alongside Palestinian young people as research advisors. I learned so much from them and it was during this time that I really began to develop as an independent researcher.
“Queen’s University has been a great place to learn from experts in my field of study, to be nurtured by my supervisor to become a researcher and to make life-long friendships with people from all over the world.”
During the first year of her PhD, Erika got married and was overjoyed to find out she was expecting her first child in her second year. However, during her pregnancy a tumour was detected and she had major abdominal surgery to remove it when her baby was just 15 weeks.
Thankfully Erika went on to have a healthy baby boy, named Job (aged 2 now) and had more surgery whilst on maternity leave. As the tumour, which turned out to be cancerous, was caught early due to her pregnancy, Erika luckily did not have to have further treatment and was later given the all clear.
Erika added: “This journey through sickness and childbirth obviously meant taking some time-out during my studies. I am so thankful for the way the staff at Queen’s made the process of doing this a lot less stressful and I have had the most incredible support from my supervisors.
“I am just really grateful to be graduating as it has not been a straight forward PhD journey. My main hope is that my thesis is a vehicle for the voices of Palestinian young people to come forth.”
After graduating, Erika hopes to pursue a career as an academic and conduct further research through a social justice lens. She also hopes to one day return to the Middle East.
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