Celebrating
a centenary
of Learning

  • 70
  • by Barbara Hernandez
  • graduated 2009
  • studied MEd in Psychology of Education
  • from Chile

I wanted another perspective on the psychology of education, other than that from the University in Chile.

I studied in Pontificia Univesidad Católica de Chile, in Santiago, a traditional private university that is part of the association of private and public universities in Chile. I completed a two years Bachelor programme that allows you to take a variety of courses from different disciplines. Through this programme I decided I would focus on psychology and was able to take some courses in education as well. I was also a teaching assistant.

I studied the MEd in Psychology of Education at the University of Bristol for four reasons. First, I wanted to concentrate on this area for my career and to progress I needed to specialize. Second, I wanted another perspective on the psychology of education, other than that from the University in Chile. I could have stayed and taken the Master’s in my own country but I think it is important to see other realities and have different experiences in order to grow as a person and as a professional. Third, I wanted to improve my English. Fourth, I wanted to have the chance to experience a multicultural environment. My family has always encouraged me to live in different contexts and enjoy different cultures.

So, I searched the British Psychological Society Association and I found that the association recognized the Master’s at Bristol. So I thought that this would be a good course and I found out more about the university. At the same time, I applied to other universities, but the University of Bristol was the first to respond to me in a very helpful, kind and efficient way. This made me realise that it would be a great place to study.

I think the environment of the graduate school helped me to grow. I appreciated the opportunity to have good professors and multicultural classmates. The chance to live in a nice city, which offers different cultural events and isn’t only a university city was also positive. I think it is important to get involved in the different activities that the university has to offer. The educational experience that the University of Bristol provides you is not only inside the classroom, so enjoy.

Also, the university offers the chance to meet people from different countries and careers, the opportunity to experience the UK, and to experience different cultural, entertainment and professional activities. I made very good friends from different countries and we still keep in touch. These relationships are valuable to me and I enjoy maintaining them.

My first positive experience at the university was the introduction week. It was very important to understand how the Graduate School functions, what was expected from me as a student and meet not only my classmates but also the other students from the graduate school. The graduate school encouraged exchange and contact between students from different programs and made you feel part of something bigger - you feel part of a family. I enjoyed the chance to learn more about statistics, the different methods to obtain and analyse data and have the chance to learn about the educational systems and cultures of my classmates’ countries. I also enjoyed learning different methods to write and structure your writing such as critical thinking and the way you need to organize your ideas to complete a dissertation and conduct research.

After I completed my Master’s degree I returned to Chile and started working for the Chile Foundation, where I worked in an area that designs and implements programs that relate education to the professional world with the purpose of improving education in poor schools. After almost 3 years I had the chance to enter the Ministry of Education, where I now work in an area that focuses on the professional development of principals. After starting as part of the team in the first year I am now the Coordinator of Educational Management and Leadership, at the Center for Improvement, Educational Research and Experimentation in the Ministry of Education of Chile.

My proudest achievement since leaving the University of Bristol has been being able to work in programs that have made a positive difference, had an impact on student’s lives and been able to show teachers and principals that they are responsible for their students learning.

In the future it is important for me to take opportunities that would allow me to grow professionally, that are challenging and that help my country develop. You never know where life will take you. It is important to think big.