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Catherine Teehan

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Catherine Teehan

Dr Catherine Teehan, Lecturer, and Placement and Employability lead

Dr Catherine Teehan has a long history with the School of Computer Science and Informatics after returning to Higher Education as a mature student in 2008. After gaining a first class honours in her undergraduate degree, she pursued a PhD whilst taking on teaching and work placement roles within the School. But her journey has not been easy as she was beset by serious illness and funding issues, which would have forced her to abandon her research studies if it was not for the support of the School.

“I had no funding for a PhD but pursued it as I was really passionate about my research. A year into it I got ill, needed a big operation and had to take a year’s break. I was working part-time at a supermarket and doing a Teaching Assistant role to help fund my studies, but was not eligible to sick pay as a mature student so could not afford the fees. After speaking to some colleagues about my situation, the School said that they would fund me. You see the true nature of people when you’re in trouble; no-one stood back and thought “this is not my problem” - they wanted to try and fix it and make it right. It felt like the whole Senior Management Team were behind me.

“The School’s work placement programme had started a year previously and was growing. I took it over and in 2015 got an official job as Placement Officer. We have gone from placing a handful of students in the first year to placing around 60 last year, and have 54 confirmed placements this year during the pandemic. I am very proud of it.

“Around the same time that I took over the placement programme, Technocamps had started and I helped facilitate CPD sessions. Our STEM Ambassadors programme grew out of this and I am really proud of what it’s become; a robust placement and outreach programme. We have gone from six STEM Ambassadors in 2015 to 118 signed up this year and have a dedicated team of six staff.

“I’m very aware that neither of these programmes would be as successful if I didn’t have the support of management within the School, and I feel lucky to be working in that kind of supportive environment.”