Under the spotlightDr Joanne Cummings, BA Psychology Deputy Course Leader

We spoke with Dr Joanne Cummings who is the Deputy Course Leader for the BA Psychology programme and is the first year Psychology lead. Joanne is also a class leader for a number of classes across Psychology's undergraduate degree programmes. 

What's your Strathclyde story?
I joined Strathclyde as a Master of Research (MRes) student back in 2009. I grew up in a deprived area and attended a low progression high school. Consequently, I left school with a handful of low grade qualifications and floated about in a number of jobs. I made the decision when I was about 24 years old to return to education. I completed an NC in social care and the following year managed to achieve higher grades and these qualifications allowed me entry into university.

I obtained a first class honours degree at Glasgow Caledonian University and then I came to Strathclyde, completing my MRes, PhD, post-doctoral studies and I’m now a Teaching Fellow within the School of Psychological Sciences and Health.

What initially attracted you to Strathclyde?
The degree programme and the staff profiles attracted me to Strathclyde. I remember contacting Madeleine Grealy, who is a Professor in PSH, when I was finishing my honours and she invited me to come in for a meeting and the rest is history.

What inspired you to enter your field/profession?
As clichéd as it sounds I fell in love with psychology. When I was completing the NC in social care, I took a module called ‘Explaining Human Behaviour’ and was so intrigued by the subject. It was the first time I could read and study an area without it feeling like it was a chore.

What advice would you give to anyone starting out in your field?
Believe in yourself, trust your judgement and be authentic. Rid yourself of self-doubt, try to stay positive, work hard and make things happen. This is the best advice I could give someone.

What has been the most memorable moment of your career to date?
Receiving my letter to say that I was accepted into GCU to study on the BSc honours psychology degree is my most memorable moment so far as this was the turning point. I still have the letter.

What current trends do you see influencing your field?
Currently, there are a number of aspects influencing psychology such as having more underrepresented groups playing a role and being involved in our discipline, how we as psychologists can contribute positively to the climate crisis, the fight against racism, the mental health crisis and of course the impact COVID-19 has had on all of us.

What are your biggest professional challenges?
I’m a single parent who has sole responsibility for my daughter so my biggest professional challenge is juggling personal and professional life and being able to take up the opportunities that would allow me to progress and succeed in my professional life.

Any special thanks or shout-outs you'd like to give to colleagues who have helped or inspired you throughout your career here?
I have been very fortunate to have been mentored by a number of greats in PSH. They know who they are.

If you could switch jobs with someone, who would it be?
If I could switch jobs it would be with my younger self as I would have liked to have realised then that some things in life are not worth worrying about.

What keeps you busy outside of work?
Outside of work I like to spend time with my daughter and our puppy, Piper. When I have time to myself, I like to be active, it’s good for physical and psychological health. I like hillwalking, yoga and going to the gym. A few colleagues from PSH and DMEM, and I are taking part in the upcoming 16.5 mile Kiltwalk in September to raise money for the Social Bite charity which helps those who are homeless. I’m looking forward to that and getting the legs moving.

What is your guilty pleasure?
Nutella. I’ll say no more.

In one word, describe what Strathclyde means to you.

Published date: August 31, 2021