Jessica Mead

Jessica Mead

PhD Psychology

What did you do prior to completing your PhD?

After completing my undergraduate psychology degree at Swansea University, I spent a year gaining work experience. During this time I was a support worker for individuals with learning disabilities and/or brain injury. I also secured an honorary assistant psychologist post shortly before being accepted on the PhD programme.

Can you provide a brief overview of your PhD subject?

My PhD introduces a new model of wellbeing that extends beyond the individual. In incorporating individual, community, and environmental pathways to wellbeing, we can create a model of wellbeing that is sustainable for ourselves, others, and the planet.

Why did you decide to complete a PhD?

Upon completing my undergraduate degree, I worked on building my dissertation for publication. After achieving this goal, I felt the urge to continue learning and testing myself in an academic setting. Through my honorary assistant psychology contract I became aware of a related PhD opportunity, for which I applied and was successful.

Why did you decide to study at Swansea University?

I loved the city itself and felt it offered me access to all the hobbies I enjoyed so I stayed here after my undergraduate degree. When the PhD opportunity arose, I became aware of the supervisory team and the impact they had had on their respective research areas. I enjoyed being part of the psychology department as an undergraduate and looked forward to being part of this again.

What challenges have you faced?

The work I produced as a PhD was open to a much higher level of criticism that I have not experienced before. However, I soon realised that’s how science worked. When I accepted that no work is perfect and to open myself to criticism from peers, supervisors, and other academics, the journey became much more creative and enjoyable. Now, I looked forward to receiving criticism for my work as it gives me the drive and knowledge of how to continually improve and adapt the research I’d like to carry out.

What have you gained from undertaking your PhD?

I’ve gained a breadth of knowledge and experiences that I don’t believe would be possible to gain elsewhere. Completing a PhD changes your mindset for the better – not only in an academic setting, but in a personal setting as well. The level of critical thinking that is required goes beyond anything I have done before and has made me a more creative and adaptive person.

How will your qualification help your career? Has it already helped your career?

Despite not receiving my qualification yet, I have already identified job opportunities. However, whilst the PhD qualification itself will open up many doors for, I believe that the experience of completing a PhD has made me a much better person and will make me stand out at any future job I hold. Had I not completed my PhD, I would not consider the previous 4 years a waste of time and I would not take back the experience, as this is what has made me ready and confident to pursue my dream jobs. I will forever be grateful for this opportunity – it has shaped who I am today and has provided me with opportunities I never thought I’d be capable of.

What’s been your highlight?

I had the opportunity to present one of my studies at the International Meaning Conference, alongside influential researchers in the field, including Scott Barry Kaufman – one of my all-time idols. I’m from Carmarthen, a small town in Wales, and never did I think I’d be in a position to complete a PhD, let alone present my work at the same event as high-profile scientists.