Spring Graduates 2023: Merry Mushka

We’re so proud of our Spring 2023 Graduates. They’ve overcome enormous challenges, helped others, grasped opportunities, and developed their skills, showing their Essex Spirit in so many ways. Here, we’re taking the opportunity to share some of their stories.

  • Date

    Wed 29 Mar 23

Merry Mushka will graduate with a BSc in Occupational Therapy and hopes to take what they have learnt at the University of Essex into improving healthcare for trans communities, as well as educating future generations of healthcare students.

Merry is finally graduating with a First in their BSc in Occupational Therapy after their original graduation was delayed due to COVID-19, and they are currently undertaking an MA in Gender and Sexuality Studies at Essex.

At Essex, Merry collaborated with senior lecturer Dr Danny Taggart and others in the School of Health and Social Care’s Equality, Diversity, and Inclusivity committee to raise awareness and improve knowledge of trans communities and their healthcare needs. They also joined the university’s Working Group to Support Trans and Non-Binary Students and Staff in 2021, working towards improving trans and non-binary people’s experiences at university.

During their time at the university, they have been involved with the Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT) LGBTQIA+ Steering Group, helping the influential organisation work with LGBTQIA+ communities and provide guidance on how to better support these communities.

They were inspired by their own experiences in navigating healthcare providers. Merry said, “I am trans and neurodivergent, and I have had too many unpleasant healthcare experiences because of these intersections. This story is not in isolation, and it occurs far too often. I have been advocating and working for meaningful change throughout my university life, and I will continue to do so in my research and education.”

Merry has encountered several obstacles in their path that has involved navigating limited understanding of trans healthcare, specifically the slow pace of needed change. However, they said, “this carries some of the best successes on a personal level too; knowing how receptive students and clinicians are in wanting to support and ally trans healthcare, but just needing an encouraging hand to point them in the right directions”.

Using their pre-existing experiences and skills they learnt prior to studying, they were able to incorporate this knowledge into their academic work, and they were honoured with a place on the Faculty of Science and Health Dean’s list for academic year 2020-21.

After completing their MA Merry will take a break from studying to continue their role as a trans educator, with particular emphasis on academia. Merry then hopes to pursue a PhD in Gender and Sexuality that will integrate perspectives from occupational therapy, trans healthcare, law, and human rights. They became the School of Health and Social Care’s Gender identity Champion in March 2023, through their role as a visiting tutor.

Read more of our Spring Graduates 2023 stories