This is our first alumni entry. It is always good to hear from MLAC postgraduate alumni and learn about their career destinations and how these might have been influenced by their time as postgraduate students in our School. This time we hear from Adrián Gras Velázquez, who received his PhD in Spanish cinema in 2013 (supervised by Santiago Fouz Hernández as main supervisor and Lucille Cairns). Adrián moved to the USA shortly after graduating, first to work as an Associate Fellow in the department of Romance Languages and Literatures at Harvard University, and now as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Swarthmore College.
Current research students will have an opportunity to talk to Adrián via Skype in a forthcoming session of the MLAC Postgraduate forum planned for November 6th.The session will focus on careers in the academic sector.
There are many reasons why I would recommend doing a PhD at Durham University. Firstly, the faculty members at MLAC are truly committed to training, mentoring, and collaborating with students. Not only was my advisor deeply invested in my development, but all of the faculty in the department were willing participants in seeing me through to the finish line. The benefits I gained from them was not just about writing high-quality papers, but about shaping both my research and teaching abilities, and pushing me to become a better academic. At MLAC I always had access to excellent experts on different fields who were more than happy to spend some time exploring my ideas, discussing their research, and guiding me throughout my own research.
But it wasn’t just my department alone that helped me in my path to become a fully-fledged researcher and academic. Durham University is filled with opportunities that can improve your CV and skills enormously. Taking part in the DULTA programme, for example, gives you access both to discussions and information on best practices in academia (and thereby improving your teaching skills), and also gives you membership to the Higher Education Academy.
During my years at Durham I was also encouraged and supported when participating in international conferences that took me to places like Los Angeles, Cardiff or Madrid. Furthermore, there are several opportunities at Durham for collaborating and doing research in other institutions. I was fortunate enough to obtain the Durham-Harvard Scholarship Award which enabled me to spend a semester at Harvard University. In return, this meant the start of an array of different collaborating opportunities between both institutions that enriched not only my own learning experience, but those of my colleagues at both institutions.
As I look around the campus of where I now work in the US, I feel certain that Durham University helped my ability to compete for top jobs on the international academic market. It is of course true that I was pushed and challenged during my time at Durham, and that a high level of commitment was required on my part, but this meant that I was well prepared for applying, competing for, and ultimately accepting an excellent academic post.