MSc Education StudiesKitra Tailor, United States

Tell us a little bit about your background...
I was born in Louisiana and grew up moving from state to state in the US. I had a public education system education, which was not great in the 1970’s, combined with all of the moving about to different standards in each state, you could say I didn’t have a very sound start. I was able to go to Marshall University for my bachelors, but since I had a very shaky education, coupled with undiagnosed learning disabilities and mental trauma from a toxic household environment, I really didn’t have any direction and ended up getting my degree in theatre with a concentration in makeup and costume. In my last year, I was given the option to spend the summer in the UK, taking classes and studying across the UK as part of a program with the University of Bournemouth. It was then that I first felt “at home” for the first time in my life, and I meant to return to the UK again and stay. Unfortunately, that’s very difficult to do from the US. After a very wide and varied range of different, unsatisfying jobs, I was working as a special effects makeup artist, which I honestly thought was the job I would enjoy the most, but unfortunately, as I got older, the 12+ hour on-set days were not agreeing with me. I ended up going to school for my esthetics license, which would soon be required for artists in the state I was in. For the first time I excelled in school, so well, in fact, I was given a full scholarship to get my instructors license, where I also did exceptionally well. As I was sitting up at 3am on a Wednesday, passionately writing up a lesson plan, not because it was due, but because I was genuinely thrilled and excited about teaching, I realized that education was my true calling and became an esthetics instructor. I’d been a yoga and a dance instructor as hobbies long before, but I’d never thought of myself as a teacher until then. Ever since, teaching adult-level courses has been my joy in life. I went on to get another degree to expand my skillset and felt that I was now capable or going on for a Masters and Doctorate degree, which would not only be a personal accomplishment, not only increase the points for a UK work visa, but also qualify me to teach at a university level, which would not only be my ideal job, but also one more able to sponsor a work visa.

What inspired you to study your chosen subject at Strathclyde?
Strathclyde was my first choice. Originally, I had thought I was ready for pursuing chemistry more seriously, but I wasn’t able to get the test scores for that quite yet. Strathclyde has a fantastically inclusive chemistry department and program that encourages inter-departmental collaboration and accessibility. One of my favorite subjects to teach was chemistry, and I still hope to learn more chemistry, so I liked the opportunities that would be available for that at Strathclyde. Also, Glasgow seemed the ideal city for me as well.

What advice would you give to someone considering studying your course?
Fear not! It can seem a bit overwhelming at first, but it’s not as hard as it seems. The instructors are supportive and understanding. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Everyone wants to help and support you here! Most of all: Don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask for help! I’m a fiercely independent person, and had a lot of trouble asking for help from anyone, but that can be really self-defeating. Even if it’s just to listen, there is always someone here for you. Reach out when you need some support.

Tell us a little bit about your experience on the course so far...
I’m one very unusual example of a person who actually has, for the most part, really thrived with this pandemic. I actually was better able to teach online when I was still teaching, and loved it. Coming from the states, I wasn’t able to get out much to begin with, so not getting out much now is not an issue. The only difference is the ability to walk outside in complete safety and the lack of gunfire. I’ve honestly never felt safer in my entire life. I love it here! There are so many online resources, not only for study, but also for socialization. I don’t think I’ve been this social in my life. I hope that the online aspect is continued even after the pandemic, as it really makes it easy to do so much more than I was able to do before. The library here is fantastic! Everything is so easy and so much better than any place I’ve ever had access to in my life! There’s a lot that I no longer have to worry about dealing with myself, so long as I can get to the library (which, to be honest, is the only location I can get to and from by memory yet). On top of all of that, I’ve gotten gifts, meals and online socials from various support groups to make sure that I felt loved during the holidays. That’s really amazing and means so much!

Tell us a little bit about your professional background...
I have a pretty unusual background, professionally. Because I had such a lack of direction initially, I ended up in a lot of very different jobs, trying to get by. I was a software tester, executive administrative assistant, telecom recruiter, an executive limousine dispatcher, a temporary tattoo artist, a special effects makeup artist, an accountant, yoga instructor, dance instructor, an esthetician, massage therapist, and finally, an esthetician instructor. I’ve found that as long as I’m teaching something I believe in, I’m full of joy. The only thing I enjoy as much as teaching is learning, thus, the school of education is preparing me for a very happy career.

What are your professional aspirations for the future?
After my masters I plan to get my PhD, and hopefully sponsorship to teach at a Uni, where I could continue to learn more, so that I could expand what I’m able to teach. I really enjoy teaching more challenging subjects to adults who feel challenged. I love to break the material down in a way that is more manageable. Having come from a place where I was repeatedly told I was too stupid to grasp certain concepts, I really love changing that experience for others so that they not only understand the material, but realize that that they’re far more capable than they initially believed. I’ve had students who thought that they were incapable of advancing any further than gluing lashes, become medical estheticians representing the best companies in the business. That is job satisfaction for me, helping others to be all they can and more than they thought they could.

How do you think this course will help prepare you for your future career goals?
I think it’s giving me a lot more experience and challenging me with independent work and problem solving. I feel like, until this point, if I was told what to do, I would do it, and that worked well for me. Now, I’ve got a general idea of what I would be doing, but it’s up to me to figure out the specifics. My instructors give guidance, but not much in the way of specifics. It’s teaching me to think for myself and problem solve. I had no idea that the master’s program would be so different! It’s not easy, and it can get frustrating at times, but the big thing to keep in mind is not to be afraid to ask questions and contact the instructors.

Have there been any memorable moments on the course so far?
Absolutely. I’ve had times when I was frustrated and then, finally got the point of an activity. The most memorable for me is the interaction with my classmates. We have an online chat where we share and support each other, remind each other about deadlines and even collaborate on ideas and approaches. The best was that I was able to exchange assignments with one classmate and give feedback to each other. Hers really was beautiful and inspiring to me, on a subject I’ve never been exposed to and opened up ideas of other things I would like to study for personal interest. I got so much feedback from classmates assuring me that I was doing well or was headed in the right direction. It’s been really reassuring and I feel like I’ve got some great friends here.

Any final points, or words of wisdom?
To quote Galaxy Quest: “Never give up! Never surrender!” You’ve got this. You can do it. It’s all worth it, because you’re worth it, no matter wha