Because of the diverse nature of the studies in the school I am always able to search for research advice
Why did you stay at Sheffield?
Sheffield has captured my imagination, not only from an academic perspective, but being able to live on the doorstep of the Peak District has been a blessing for me. I would truthfully say that my motivation to stay at the university was only through the support, enthusiasm, and motivation shown by my supervisors (Peter Watt and Paul O'Neill).
Why are you doing a PhD?
I have never been academically inclined, but I have always had a curiosity for the history and culture of my home (Peru), and this in turn led me to obsess over stories in books and academic scholarship involving the native Andean populations. This facilitated my desire to continue learning in order to teach and share my knowledge to future students. My hope is that after my PhD I am able to continue researching, and to attain a fixed teaching position at a university.
What’s the focus of your research?
Race and language are individually complex fields of study, and recent scholarship has attributed historical assumptions about their conflation in the Americas. My research aims to investigate the nuances of race and language, and how vernacular languages interacted with colonial institutions in such a way that other native languages were put into decline. I aim to cover the pre-Columbian and the post-colonial period across the Andes and Mesoamerica.
What’s it like being a postgraduate in the School of Languages & Cultures?
Despite being only a small population of students, I feel more like a part of the community than I did during my undergraduate studies. Postgraduates are quick to introduce themselves and they offer help on research or administrative queries. All members of staff have made me feel welcome in the department, and because of the diverse nature of the studies in the school I am always able to search for research advice.
How did you find the first few months in particular?
The first months were odd because I was readjusting after having finished writing my MA dissertation continuously for months. I quickly found myself discussing the direction of my PhD research with my supervisors, and within a matter of weeks I was writing up sections of my research. Personally I found the initial period very efficient, and I learnt more about the School of Languages than I had in my entire undergraduate studies.
What’s your highlight of studying in Sheffield?
My recent highlight has to be taking seminars on my supervisor's module as a graduate teaching assistant. This is my biggest motivator, and I love teaching and all aspects of engaging with the wider student community. I enjoy sharing knowledge about Latin American studies, and equally learning daily from the people around me.
What support do you receive from your supervisors?
My supervisors aid me daily with articles, essays, and books on the topic of my study. We also meet on a fortnightly basis to discuss my recent progress, and to set writing goals for the near future. Both my supervisors help to point me into directions that I would have never thought of, and because of their expertise, I am able to find comparisons in academic scholarship.
What resources are available to you?
The university Library, the academics in the School of Languages, academics from other institutions, StarPlus, and the inter-library scheme.
What additional opportunities are there in the School?
There are GTA opportunities, there are note taking requests, you can help out at open days, I can request funding to host talks or small conferences, there are Knowledge Exchange schemes.
What are your plans for after your PhD?
I hope to either get a post-doc to continue a certain aspect of my research, or I hope to get a teaching position at a university.
Can you describe the School in 3 words?
Stimulating, vibrant, and challenging
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