Ana Cabrera Pacheco
- Course: PhD title: The Maya Solar of Yucatán: Transformations of identity, land and livelihoods in urban settlements in Mexico
Supervisors: Dr Stuart Hodkinson, Dr Sara Gonzalez
Funding: CONACYT - CONCIYTEY (Mexico)
Why did you decide to study for a PhD, and why Leeds?
I decided to study for a PhD to be better prepared for understanding and confronting the realities and changes happening in my home state in Mexico. I was convinced that people and the space they inhabit needed to be looked at as part of the same process, which is not usually done. Therefore, I turned to Geography as the mean for me to engage with the everyday life in Yucatán and its links to the larger global events in a research project that brought together my previous studies of Architecture and Environmental Sciences.
I chose to do the PhD in Leeds because of the people and their research in the cluster. The variety of subjects and points of views was both an inspiration and a challenge. My own research project was not regarded merely as ‘international’ or ‘development’ but was integrated to the dynamics of the group. Also, the good ranking of Leeds in Geography within the UK made the choosing relevant when applying for funding in Mexico.
What is your experience of PhD study in the School and what skills have you learnt?
So far I have had a great experience doing the PhD in Leeds. I have met some amazing people, learnt about really interesting research projects, had the chance to participate in international academic meetings and had the opportunity to travel to some beautiful places. My PhD experience has been enriched by some theory and methods courses from the Master's programme, where I always felt welcomed and encouraged to participate in the discussions. I have also had the opportunity of doing fieldwork back home, knowing that I have an incredible support from my supervisors, researchers and fellow PhD students in Leeds. Within the University, I love the fact that I can find most of the books I need in the library – even some in Spanish.
What are your career aspirations?
In general, doing a PhD requires discipline, self-motivation and flexibility, especially when it is based on research and not on courses. I am convinced that doing a PhD was the right decision for my career but also for my personal development. I have had to overcome some every day and some academic situations, and in a foreign language, which has been highly rewarding. I am confident that the courses, training, conferences and seminars taken, along with the talks and discussions held while doing a PhD in Leeds will be a strong base to keep pushing forward my decision to continue research as a career.
More generally, what would you say to someone else who may be considering studying a PhD in the School of Geography?
I find Leeds has a right balance between student and non-student life. The School of Geography has top researchers and amazing human-beings as well as resources and all the support needed to integrate as a student and as a researcher. The city itself has a variety of options for engaging in local projects, to participate in larger events and places you want to visit when you a break every now and then.