Psychology BSc (Hons) alumna Monica Pereira graduated from London Met in 2015. We caught up with Monica to talk about her university experience.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I moved to London from Johannesburg, South Africa fresh out of high school when I was 18 years old. With some experience in hospitality, my goal was to become a chef. Fast forward three years and I was as a sous chef in a gastropub. I then moved into the hospitality industry. While I loved this profession, I felt this big hole in my life that wasn’t being filled. It was then when I found out I could attend university, via a simple google search about attending university in the UK as a European (my family are from Portugal) so I went for it.
I chose to study psychology because I'm aware that mental health is a growing problem and I wanted to help in this area. Briefly, I studied psychology, went into studying clinical neuroscience and am now doing a PhD in human-computer interaction aiming to improve communication skills training using automated recognition of human emotion and nonverbal signals. I am in my final year and hope to continue to complete a clinical psychology professional doctorate.
Thinking back to before you started your psychology course, did you ever think you’d be where you are now?
To get into university was a pipe dream as I am from a small suburban town in the south of Johannesburg, the idea of studying in higher education was too far-fetched. The word ‘overwhelmed’ does not come close to explaining how I feel to be where I am today. Although, I am still powering full steam ahead and I am not done yet!
How would you describe the journey you’ve been on and how has London Met and the course helped in that journey?
Hard! It is still hard, but my passion for making a difference encourages me to persevere! London Met has played a big part in my life and my career. At the end of my degree at London Met, I had received an award from the British Psychological Society for the highest grade achieved. This could not have been achieved without the support from lecturers and my fellow colleagues. The lectures at London Met are practising clinicians so can advise the correct pathway very effectively!
What makes psychology an especially valuable degree?
A degree in psychology is an excellent base for a career in finance, business or medicine. A few students who have studied psychology have gone into graduate medicine and won awards for the best patient-centred practitioner with effective communication skills and empathy for patients. What makes studying psychology at London Met so special is the support and clear guidance that is given by staff. In addition, the diversity at London Met allowed me to study alongside people with very different perspectives about the world which has been really eye-opening for me. Staff and students were always willing to help.
Throughout my undergraduate degree, I had a wonderful experience which I appreciated much more once studying at other universities. The dynamic at London Met is something that I have not experienced anywhere else! The way that the lectures are delivered is interesting and engaging. I started the degree hoping to go into counselling, at the end of the degree I had a hard time choosing a career path. This was a result of how staff in the psychology department create a passion for any field in psychology that you didn't know you had.
Do you feel that you’ve changed as a person through your uni experience?
Yes, I have become more understanding of people suffering from mental health concerns, more empathetic and more structured in how I think. It has helped me form clear arguments and improved my confidence in a professional environment.
In the university who has had the most impact on your development and why?
For the entirety of my career, Dr Chris Chandler has always been extremely helpful and willing! This is very rare in academia and I thank him for his time and brain space.
How has the uni helped in terms of inspiring you?
London Met has inspired my understanding of psychology and the world beyond studying and being a student. In many ways, I would describe London Met to be a very ‘hands-on’ university with practising psychologists and researchers who are able to guide students in a career in the former and the latter.
In my final year, the University hosted two guest lecturers who spoke about anomalistic psychology (the study of human behaviour and experience connected with the paranormal, with the assumption that there is nothing paranormal involved) and a longitudinal study on the effects of breast and bottle feeding. These talks were inspiring, as one talk introduced me to a novel area in psychology and the other demonstrated the passion of the researchers involved in the study and I wanted to be part of that research community. As a result, I was encouraged to seek out talks all over London.
I was also offered to take up a graduate teaching position at London Met in 2016 which I took without hesitation. I teach topics on Biopsychology and Abnormal Psychology to the foundation and first-year students. Doing this is invigorating and has helped me decide on a new career path! I enjoy teaching the topics that I was once taught at London Met! Furthermore, this has allowed me to teach at other universities simultaneously which helps with gaining experience as part of my PhD.
What’s it been like studying among such diverse students, what benefit did it bring?
It was life-changing, I befriended people from South Asia and all over Europe! We are all still in touch and will be lifelong friends! I would say that studying at a multicultural university has its perks!
What’s next in your journey and what’s your ambition for the future?
I am in my final year of my PhD and I am hoping to complete a professional doctorate in clinical psychology, again this stems from my desire to help people. I will also love to continue doing research in academia, I can’t imagine a life without research.
I am very proud of having studied at London Met! From my experience with four other Universities, I can confidently say that London Met has made a huge difference in my career and my personal life. If I could do it again, I wouldn’t have done anything differently.
Can you describe your experience in one word?