Sarah Browne

Sarah BrowneDegree: MMath Mathematics

Graduate role: PhD student, The University of Sheffield

"I never thought I was good enough to go to university, but I applied due to advice from teachers and family. I applied for the BSc in Mathematics at Sheffield since the city appealed to me, the course had plenty of choice and I had family living close by. I will never forget the day I visited Sheffield and it felt like home. I sat next to a professor with whom I talked about mathematics and it felt so natural, the people were all friendly and the degree had plenty of interesting modules on offer. That day I returned home and told my parents all about it. I just could not shut up about the people I had met and the maths that had been discussed whilst visiting. These are all the reasons I chose to study at the University of Sheffield.

"The day I arrived in Sheffield to start my degree, I attended an introductory lecture, sitting right at the back hiding like a little girl in a huge crowd. Although the staff were all amazing and I made friends I did not believe in my own abilities and ended up nearly quitting a few months in to my first year. I had a two hour conversation with a professor and she gave me reasons to believe in myself. She even said 'You will be coming to see me about doing a PhD in a few years time' and I just laughed not even knowing what a PhD was. I know without the support of the lecturers at the University of Sheffield I would never have finished my undergraduate degree.

"As the years passed I became more confident due to my lecturers having faith in me so I decided to look into PhDs. I changed from the BSc to the MMath in mathematics and applied for PhDs during my fourth year. Despite my lack of confidence, at graduation I won a prize for coming top in my year. My confidence grew in my fourth year since I had the opportunity to aid younger students in tutorials and I have taught ever since. I managed to secure funding at Sheffield and stayed for another four years. Throughout these further years of PhD study, my faith in my abilities has continued to increase and I have become an independent researcher. Additionally, I have managed to secure my dream job – a two year research position with teaching at Pennsylvania State University in the USA."