From the perspective of a mature student who has leaped out of a career back into education, the expectation to not waste any educational opportunities provided is central to one’s thoughts. Extra opportunities with the experts are part of that investment. So the invitations to join the Sport and Exercise Psychology (SEP) Journal Club and research seminars in the School of Sport and Exercise Science, although daunting as a new student, filled me with great excitement.

For SEP Journal Club meetings, I considered preparedness key to success. Needing to be able to read, discuss and critically analyse the article was required and accepted as the challenge. Before my first meeting, I felt confident and prepared, but I soon realised how much I had yet to learn. I took note of how fellow club members explained psychological theories, identified research designs, and critically reviewed the work, which left me with new skills, knowledge, and insights. Gaining knowledge, insights, and guidance plus new skills, this is what I was there for and the fellow club members were the ones who helped me get there.  When the next meeting came around, although humbled by last time, I felt reassured from words of encouragement and had a different experience. With the assistance of notes, cross reading and understanding of new terms, feelings of confidence and acceptance were my companions. Confusion still occurred, yet with the help of fellow club members, the hard work had paid off and clarity occurred during the discussions. Collaboration and understanding brightened the path. As I continue with my studies, I have seen these skills developed through Journal Club benefit my reading, assignment writing and my own research design within my course modules. Even with the pandemic, I’m thrilled that Journal Club is continuing through the summer through the use of virtual meetings.

Attending research seminars delivered by staff and postgraduate researchers in the School was another form of involvement in research. This was an exciting opportunity to listen to work that is currently happening in the local area. The feeling of ‘this could be you’ became apparent.  The seminars were insightful and realistic experiences. Nothing was rose-tinted. The challenges are present – the attrition rates, the data analysis, the editing of work… these are real. Yet, combined with passion for the work and the uncovering of new data and possibilities, research becomes a beautiful adventure to look forward to. I see research as more than just the dissertation project at the end of the course. For me, I see the possibilities of improving people’s health and practice within the physical activity sector for more people to benefit.

These extra opportunities provided by our educators enable growth far more than I could have realised. Amid all the assignments, the lecture notes and the extra reading, these experiences have enabled me to know more about myself, what I care about and what the future could hold. This holds up to my expectations and makes the ride of re-entering education worth the investment.

– Janine Blades, Undergraduate in School of Sport and Exercise Science