Our September researcher of the month is Jai Mackenzie, who joined us recently as a postgraduate researcher.
I completed my BA in English Language and Literature at The University of Birmingham in 2000. After a year out, which I spent teaching English in Romania,
music workshops in South Africa and working as a TA in a special school in Birmingham, I completed a PGCE in Secondary English, again at Birmingham University. I spent the next 8 years teaching English at Waverley School. During this time I also gained an MEd in teaching studies and this really reignited my passion for academic study. I really enjoyed combining research with teaching. It wasn’t until after I’d had my two children, though, that I felt I was in a position to pursue what felt, at the time, like a bit of a pipe dream: to study for a PhD. To my surprise, it turned out my dream was a very real possibility, and I’m now delighted to be coming to the end of my first year studying in the English Language subject group.
What is the best thing about your job?
The best thing about my job is that it isn’t a job! I’m doing something because I feel passionate about it and not because it pays the bills (though having both is obviously a bonus!). The flexibility of research has been invaluable to me, it has made it possible for me to pursue my personal dreams and ambitions and still have plenty of time to be there for my young children.
Why did you decide to join Interland?
I decided to join Interland because I didn’t want to be isolated from other academics at the university. I wanted to make links with other researchers who have similar interests and find out what projects others were involved in. I think that getting involved with Interland is also a good way to find out what it’s like to be an (employed!) academic; to find out what it really entails, warts and all!
What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment I’m preparing for my first year Viva. I’d really like this to go smoothly! I’m also preparing for a poster presentation on the ethics of online research. I’ll be presenting this poster at the BAAL (British Association for Applied Linguistics) conference at the beginning of September.
What achievements are you most proud of?
I’m very proud of all my academic achievements. I’ve always taken a lot of pride in producing work to the highest standard that I’m capable of and it’s great when you receive recognition for it. I’m very proud that I made the move to study for a PhD last year, and won the LSS Studentship that made it possible. It was a difficult decision to make as left behind a stable career but I’ve never regretted it for a second.
How do you like to spend your leisure time?
I don’t have a lot of leisure time at the minute as I’m juggling my research with family life, which is very time consuming! I do go to a Jive class every week, which was completely new to me when I started a couple of years ago; I’d never done any dance before. I do like to challenge myself to learn new skills. I also learned to swim properly last year and now I try to go swimming once a week and find it really clears my head! I love music – both listening and playing – though I haven’t found much time for this in recent years. I still like a bit of a tinkle on my piano, though, or a song in the shower!
If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you most like to have with you and why?
The first would have to be my family (if I can count my husband and children as one thing!). With them around I would never be bored! The second would probably be my kindle, loaded up with as many books as I could get my hands on! I do like reading – for academic and leisure purposes – and I think I’d be lost without it. I guess I’d probably need something practical too, to help us survive in a wilderness! A swiss pen knife maybe?
What would you like to achieve in the next year?
This year has been a steep learning curve for me so if I can continue to move forward at the same rate I will be very happy! One specific thing I’d like to achieve is to get a paper accepted.