What you did next
Here we explore the interesting locations and careers that our alumni have found themselves in.
PgDip Social Work (1989)
It was my dad who inspired me to value education. He was a very talented man who never got the chance of further or higher education himself, but always encouraged his three daughters.
I initially studied English at the University of Cambridge before teaching English as a foreign language to students in Spain, Portugal and Egypt. I returned to the UK to pursue a career in social care and after working with people with learning disabilities in England I came to Edinburgh to do my postgraduate diploma in Social Work, graduating in 1989. The Social Work programme and the placements involved were demanding, and I still had a lot of growing up to do in those days, but I also knew that experiencing the programme had given me exactly what I needed to develop and move on.
I then started pursuing an interest in staff development and professional education, and began training teams and individuals to support people with learning difficulties to live as independently as possible. I also continued to pay attention to my own professional development, gaining professional qualifications in both counselling and horticulture. In 2006, I joined what was then the Centre for Teaching, Learning & Assessment at the University, and moved to the Institute for Academic Development when it was launched in 2011. All the time, I was studying for my Doctorate in Education from the Open University, which I completed in 2012.
I now lead the Principal’s Teaching Awards Scheme, the Edinburgh Teaching Award and the Practical Strategies sessions – initiatives that aim to recognise good teaching throughout the University. I also teach on the Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice, a masters-level programme for academics who teach, and I’m an active researcher. I’m focusing on academic identities and arts-enriched development activities. It’s part of my role to encourage colleagues to research and write about their teaching.
When I look back to when I left Edinburgh as a graduate I had no idea that I would be back as a member of staff in 2006. So much had happened in those 17 years. I came to study because I needed to grow and develop. I still do.
MSc International Studies (2014)
My time in Edinburgh definitely made me an internationally minded individual. I am now the Advocacy Executive with the Disabled People’s Association in Singapore. I work on disability rights and policy. Living and studying in Edinburgh encouraged me to see the bigger world, as compared to the island I was born on, and how global events impact us in our everyday lives.
I have also published an article on unmanned aerial vehicles in an international security journal, been nominated for the United Nations (UN) Women Singapore’s Impact Award, and joined the working group that will present a report to the disability committee at the UN in Geneva.
My motto for life and work is definitely ‘When in doubt, always ask’. The worst that can happen is a rejection, in which case it becomes a learning point, and you can move on to the next exciting thing. There have been instances where I’ve worried about what people might think about me, but more often than not, asking questions and putting myself out there has always steered me in the right direction. It’s even brought me experiences that I never thought possible.
Sumita has connected with current politics student Coady Johnston on Platform One, sharing advice and tips for life after graduation. Coady is grateful for the opportunity to connect with an alumna: “Being part of the Edinburgh community is advantageous because there is such a wide range of wonderful and helpful alumni, such as Sumita. Although it might seem scary to approach these people, they are very open to supporting you. It really has been so useful to have this contact for advice, a chat or even to find out about opportunities after I graduate.”
MSc Nationalism Studies (2011)
I came to Edinburgh with a mission to find diversity – and I found it. I lived with four people from four different countries, while my programme of 16 students represented at least 10 different countries, and ranged from ages 20 to 80. We developed a unique community and friendship that we maintain to this day. In fact, whenever I return to Scotland from the US, my first priority is to meet with my 87-year-old friend, Irene, who studied with me. We’ve formed an incredible friendship. I bring the Prosecco, and she provides the stories.
After graduating, I completed a three-month internship at the British Consulate General in Chicago, which kept me connected to Scotland through regular networking with employees of Scottish Development International (SDI), which serves as Scotland’s international economic development agency.
The networking served me well, and after completing my internship I began working as Vice-President for SDI in Chicago. I’ve been with them for more than five years now, and I spend my time promoting Scotland’s energy sector throughout North America. As you can imagine, studying nationalism in Scotland has given me a certain understanding of Scottish and British politics – as well as the culture – and this is so valuable to me on a daily basis. I see my job as promoting Scotland as the ideal place to do business, and I passionately believe that it is.
I also head up the Edinburgh University Alumni Club of Chicago. That’s another way for me to stay connected to the University and its people. We socialise together, bounce ideas off each other, and learn so much in the process. I believe that’s what’s so special about being an Edinburgh alumnus – I’m part of this unique community and always will be.
Find out more
These postgraduate alumni have taken different paths, but they share a desire to stay connected to the University. They are all members of Platform One, our online meeting place where alumni, students and staff can gather, support, encourage and share. You can join them.