Proud to be Staffs Story: Lou Reynolds
Work Based Learning Fellow, School of Creative Arts and Engineering
We all occasionally need some support, but through tireless dedication to her work, Lou has helped students break down the barriers of mental health, self-confidence and much more! Thank you Lou, for making us Proud to be Staffs.
Lou Reynolds's Story
"Graduation is supposed to be a moment of celebration. When I graduated my Bachelor's degree in 2017, I didn't get that. I was at the tail end of a nine-month depressive episode. My goal, the one constant that had been present in my life for four years, was gone. My plan for post-graduation employment didn't work out. I was living alone with no job, no course, and no direction. The loosest of loose ends. Then I spoke to my old housemate. She was finishing an MA by Negotiated Studies - a course pioneered by Lou that allows students to design their own programme of study if an existing Masters programme doesn't cover the subject they want to study or the way they want to study it. I looked back at my previous work, and there was something there. I spoke to Lou and she helped me expand that small nugget of an idea, a little unfulfilled potential in my final dissertation, into a fully-fledged three-part Masters thesis. She did more than that, of course - that was the first month, and Lou was my course tutor for thirteen. I can't pretend I took full advantage of everything she offered - I'm terrible at keeping contact with supervisors - but she gave me direction. In summer 2018, a few months before my Masters course concluded, I applied for a funded research-based PhD/lecturing position with the Games Research Group. The application process asks applicants to choose one of six specific areas of study and pitch a project for it - but I wasn't having any of it. I pitched my own field, something the board would have been well within their rights to reject out of hand. I consider the fact that I reached interview to be the high point of my entire academic career, and I could never have made it there without Lou's support. Now I hold an MSc in Ludology and I'm preparing to apply for a full-time PhD. I've found potential in myself that I never would have dreamed was there when I first graduated. I owe that to Lou. She's the most unassuming, friendly and helpful member of university staff I've ever come across - and she's helped me find the confidence I always needed. I'm just one of a thousand students who's crossed Lou's path, but she still takes the time to say hello or to stop and chat when we happen to pass on a landing in the Flaxman building. I've never been the most attentive of students, nor did I really touch base as often as I should when she was my tutor. But Lou doesn't see an absent-minded student with a scattered understanding of her field. She sees someone with the potential to go so much further than they have, further even than they think they can - and what sets her apart from other members of staff is that it's that person that she speaks to."