Michelle Christensen, graduated in Sociology: Gender, Sexuality and Society in 2008.
I always knew that I wanted to carve out a great degree of autonomy within a potential professional framework. I moved through different academic fields, from Social and Political Science within International Development, to specializing in the Sociology of Conflict and Gender, to finally exploring the materialization of the Social by engaging into the field of design.
Currently I am working within the field of design research, carrying out practice-led research projects, or what is often referred to as 'research through designing'. All the projects lay somewhere on the fringe of Sociology and could perhaps not have been formed in their specific method and outcome without my former experience.
I find that my University education was invaluable. I did not have the general perspective and overview to notice at the time, that there are certain crucial skills that take time and practice to learn, and not least getting acquainted and comfortable with to excel in, and those skills serve you within everything that you do. For me, these skills are not expressed in knowing dates and names, but rather in aspects such as the art of formulating, or the understanding that it is not the act of doing research that makes you a researcher, but rather that you dare to engage openly in a contentious process of producing new knowledge within a critical understanding of both your position and your own parameters.
Every educational institution is different, and so is every programme. There is always a battle between conservatism and progressiveness, as well as between subjectivity and perceived objectivity, and these battles take place at multiple levels at the same and different times. So, there will always be something relevant that you craved for, something significant that you ignored, and something noteworthy that you learned by mistake. However, in the end the quality of education is also very bound to the boundaries of engaged students, and teachers that have enough motivation and a good feel for what they do.
Let yourself be lead by what you feel passionate about. Sometimes it may be something that makes you angry, other times it may be something that gets you excited. However, feeling provoked or thrilled is better than getting lost in a lack of aim and ambition and in my experience it seems that passion remains the most uncorrupted drive of individual motivation.