WIT’s first PhD graduate reflects on her educational journey

Science
Ruth Russell pictured at her graduation in 1993

Ruth Russell pictured at her graduation in 1993

Ruth Russell was WIT’s first PhD graduate in 1993. She says her academic background, curiosity and love of learning have had a positive influence on her life

“I went to an all-girls school close to Kevin Street in Dublin’s Liberties and enjoyed all subjects but I was particularly drawn to Chemistry. Kevin Street DIT was a stone’s throw away from my school and that’s where I studied for four years for an Applied Sciences Degree in Chemistry and Physics. Eager to learn more chemistry, I jumped at the chance to do a PhD in WRTC (now WIT) despite not being previously aware of the RTC network of colleges and I enjoyed my time there academically and socially. From there I had the opportunity to do a Postdoc at the Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris, a city I’ve visited many times since.

Over the years I’ve worked in industrial research, developed an environmental business idea, taught chemistry and also worked in various non-science related roles. I’ve spent the last fourteen and a half years in the hazardous waste industry in mainly technical roles. I believe my academic background, my curiosity and love of learning have had a positive influence on my life. With new strings to my bow, I’m now ready to embark on a new challenge in 2019.

My advice to anyone considering the STEM subjects at third level is try not to be railroaded, by family, peers and others, into studying a course that doesn’t interest or motivate you. ‘Follow your bliss’ as advised by wise academic, Joseph Campbell. Visit the colleges you wish to attend, do your research on desired courses, asks lots of questions and importantly make time for study, rest and play.

If you complete your STEM course and find the jobs market less than buoyant, don’t panic. STEM skills are valued by industry in general e.g. analytical, research, problem-solving, numerical, logical, attention-to-detail skills and the ability to learn new things and to experiment. A STEM qualification can be a stepping stone to an interesting career in any sector that matches your academic skills and knowledge but also your personality and extra-curricular activities.”

Ruth Russell


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