More about Carly-Emma

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Study History at NTU – Carly’s Story
Carly-Emma Leachman tells us what she’s enjoyed most about NTU during her journey through a BA, MA and now PhD in History.

What does your thesis focus on?

"My thesis focuses on the evacuation of expectant mothers during World War Two and the way in which this changed the narrative of birth post-war. People often ask how I ended up researching this and what I usually say is that I started looking at maternity care for my BA and then had more and more questions I wanted to answer! I researched Nottingham’s interwar maternal mortality rates for my undergraduate dissertation and then at MA went on to research the treatment of post-natal mental health in the asylums of Nottingham."

Tell us why you chose to study at NTU.

“I became a mother at a young age and as result, had not been able to go to university after college as per the normal route.  After my second child was born in 2009, I decided to seize the moment, leave my management job and apply for university. I applied for 4 undergraduate courses at NTU because I felt it had a great, inclusive and supportive feel which was important to me as a mature student with caring responsibilities.”

Why did you decide to return to NTU for postgraduate and doctorate study?

“I actually went to the University of Nottingham after graduation to study towards a PGCE. Around halfway through the academic year, I realised that my heart was not in teaching and what I actually wanted to do was get back to studying history. I knew that NTU had an excellent MA History programme and therefore, I was thrilled to be accepted to go back and study there again. I was encouraged and supported in this endeavour by NTU staff as well which was great.”

What did you enjoy most about your undergraduate and postgraduate courses?

“The sheer variety of the subject matter, the breadth of academic knowledge within the Arts and Humanities at NTU is outstanding. While there were module options at undergraduate level, there was still scope to study a wide historical spectrum and I studied everything from The Crusades to the Second World War. I feel this allowed me to really explore history and not just stick to what felt comfortable. There was also a good variety of teaching methods and styles which was great and meant that there was something for everyone.”

What did you think about the staff – include technical staff, administrators, lecturers and tutors. How did they support your learning and university experience?

“The academic staff at NTU are incredibly supportive, and I have always felt comfortable approaching them about pretty much anything. I faced various challenges during my undergraduate study, including needing to suspend study for two years when I had my third child, the subject leader did everything he could to make sure this was a smooth process and that when I came back, I was supported back into study. I was also encouraged by various staff members to study at MA and then PhD level and they also helped me navigate the process of application.”

Would you recommend NTU to someone looking to study in your area? If so, why?

“Yes, I feel the variety of subject matter and the supportive and highly knowledgeable staff are a great combination. Also, there is a strong focus on employability which I feel is vital in the current work climate. Both undergraduates and postgraduates are given the chance to have work-based experiences that count towards their degree and also give their CV a boost. I feel that NTU History graduates have an edge as a result of this, they not only learn the historian’s craft, critical thinking and such but how to apply those skills to the wider world."

Have you felt supported by NTU as a mature student and a parent?

“Yes, it is no easy task balancing full time study and parenthood (I was also a single parent for the second half of my BA and during my MA), and I do not think I would have done as well in my degrees had I not been at NTU. There were countless times I felt I couldn’t do and wanted to give up but there was no way the History staff would let that happen! Student Services were also excellent in terms of advice and support and I was able to access extra funding on a couple of occasions when needed and given support in applying for extensions when required.”

What has been your greatest achievement at NTU?

“Graduating from my BA with a First was one of the proudest moments of my life, I honestly thought the day would never come so when it did, it was truly wonderful. Similarly, when I graduated the MA with Distinction it was a great feeling. However, I think I would have to say that the greatest achievement was flying to Princeton University in the U.S to give a paper on my thesis. Here I was, a pink haired, 35-year-old mum of three from Nottingham, stood in one of the world’s most distinguished universities, with academics from all over the world listening to me. It was mind-blowing!”

Do you have any advice to share with new graduates or other alumni?

“Take every chance you are given, you never know who you will meet or what you will learn and never, ever stop chasing what you want to do.”

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