Valerie is a full-time student studying for a MSc degree in Education, specialising in Child Development and Education. Prior to joining the department she studied psychology at the University of Costa Rica in San José, Costa Rica.

What degree did you apply for and why was it important to you to study this? 

I applied to the MSc in Education (Child Development and Education) at the department having developed a special interest in child development during my years of studying psychology. Having the opportunity to work with children in different roles (i.e. psychologist, kindergarten teacher, and swimming instructor) made me curious to know more about how children learn and develop. In particular, my experience working with children in an educational context motivated me to support children´s education and wellbeing, especially for the most disadvantaged children. Ultimately, my reason for pursuing this degree was to gather knowledge and experience which could help improve the current status and opportunities of the children in my country.

What do you plan to do once you’ve completed your degree?

I plan to return to Costa Rica to develop a professional career in the areas of applied research and policy making. To achieve this, I’ll be seeking job opportunities in different types of organisations such as governmental and non-governmental organisations, international organisations, and foundations committed to children´s development, education, and rights. As a long-term goal I would like to found a multidisciplinary centre for children and families to receive support in the different areas of development, by combining knowledge from different fields such as child development, clinical and educational psychology, and special education.

What do you most value about the teaching at the department?

There are several things I value about the teaching at the department. Firstly, being taught by a team of very successful professionals with great expertise and years of experience in the field. Secondly, having teachers from diverse cultural backgrounds and nationalities who can bring different contexts into discussion during the lectures. I also appreciated that the professors were able to create a good balance between theory and practice in the delivery of the course. Finally, the availability of valuable support and resources to facilitate our learning and research, such as the libraries, one-to-one supervisions, and seminars sharing state of the art research in child development and education.

Why do you think it’s important to study education?

I believe education is one of the strongest tools available for people to enhance their life conditions and thrive in society, and for society to develop as a whole. Furthermore, improving the provision of education can help reduce the opportunities gap between the most advantaged and disadvantaged in a population.

What’s the community like at the department?

The community is very friendly and has a great cultural diversity which makes the learning experience even richer. Coffee breaks on Wednesdays became a cultural experience when you were able to chat to students from such different backgrounds from all around the world. The department always offered opportunities to learn beyond the scope of the course, for example, weekly seminars on different research topics were held, as well as panels or similar activities, to encourage students and staff to share their work with the community. Students were given a voice by naming a course representative who attended several departmental meetings during the year. Furthermore, the staff from the library always made sure you could get the books you needed and kindly guided you through the process of getting used to the Oxford University library system. My course mates became my friends and I will always be very grateful for all the support they gave me during the masters.

Do you have a mentor in the department, and if so how has this helped you?

My supervisor is my mentor. She supports me throughout the course, not only to successfully pass my dissertation but also to develop the self-reliance and interpersonal skills needed to endure such a demanding course and to work as part of a team.

How does your College contribute to your experience at Oxford? 

My beloved college provides me not only with a beautiful home to live in but also a wonderful community of people very willing to make friends, support you, and accompany you during the journey.