Spring Graduates 2023: Rachel Bown

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

    Thu 13 Apr 23

Profile image of Rachel Bown spring graduate 2023 Department of PPS

Rachel Bown graduated at Spring Graduation 2023 with a Masters in Childhood Studies and has already started her PhD at Essex.

She started studying for her BA and MA at Essex while still working, but after retiring after 25 years in the Metropolitan Police in February 2023 Rachel has decided to continue her studies to the next level.

She was part of the first group of graduates from both the Childhood Studies courses at undergraduate and Masters levels and she really values the insights and experience her time at Essex has given her.

“All our lecturers were inspirational in different ways and showed real enthusiasm in the field. The department as a whole is very supportive,” she said.

So, what inspired her to come to Essex?

“At work, I was encountering more and more children and young people whose life trajectories were very poor, often through mental health problems and involvement in crime and/or drugs,” Rachel said.

“There appeared to be an ever-increasing number of self-harm and suicide. My rationale for choosing Childhood Studies was the hope of finding a better understanding and being able to help these young people before their lives become out of reach of help. Looking particularly at the communication disconnect between young people and the police.”

Rachel, who also volunteers with Essex Wildlife Trust alongside her studies, has loved joining the Essex student community and proving that “I can do anything I set my mind to”.

She added: “I think the element that I like most about the campus is the fact that it is self-contained; I found peace in the library whilst having opportunities to connect with people. The course was my first encounter with psychoanalytic theory, which I found/find fascinating, as well as providing insight into relational dynamics. I am very curious about the human mind, so the course was exactly what I was looking to do.”

She admits that as a mature student learning to study again was a “big challenge” as she hadn’t written an essay since her original law degree back in 1991, but she adds: “I found a passion for research and writing.”

Rachel started volunteering with Essex Wildlife Trust as part of her course. Now she just enjoys supporting sessions which give so much to young people.

“I work with the Forest School Team during their sessions with different age groups of children from a variety of backgrounds. Part of Forest School’s ethos is allowing children to explore their boundaries in a natural environment, making things from natural materials as well as learning about nature. I initially attended as part of a module requirement but extended the work I did due to the immense joy and benefit I saw it giving children,” she said. 

Childhood Studies within the Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies at Essex is uniquely positioned as it follows children from 0 to 21 years, whilst many institutions focus on the early years and pedagogy.

Rachel is proud to have helped the Childhood Studies team develop and refine the course.

“Childhood Studies is a relatively young field of study, and both the BA and MA at Essex were in their inaugural year, so the feedback and our experience helped shape future Childhood Studies degrees,” she said. “Being part of the knowledge-making process is being part of a change. Since I joined the police, I have aspired to make a difference in people’s lives, and this has not changed.”

Since the start of 2023, Rachel has been studying for her PhD which focuses on the work Sabina Spielrein – who was a pioneer in psychoanalysis and interdisciplinary working. She hopes to highlight the value of Spielrein’s work to current challenges and transdisciplinary practice.

“I am very passionate about my subject area, I believe it is an important field,” she said.

Read more of our Spring Graduates 2023 stories.