We’re so proud of our Class of 2023. They’ve overcome enormous challenges, helped others, grasped opportunities, and developed their skills, showing their Essex Spirit in so many ways. And they’ve done all of this during a pandemic when life – and student life – changed beyond recognition. Here, we’re taking the opportunity to share some of their stories.
Wed 5 Jul 23
The welcome and interest that Mai Bloomfield encountered at her open day, confirmed that her enthusiasm could flourish under the wealth of multi-disciplinary expertise offered by the Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies.
Mai graduates this summer from the Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies with a BA Childhood Studies.
She started her career as a swimming instructor where she developed a profound interest in the interconnections between her learners and their surroundings, including their relationships with others, themselves, and the encompassing aquatic environment. With the unwavering backing of her family, Mai decided that pursuing a degree focused on working with children would be the most logical next step, so she found her place and further enrichment at Essex.
During her second year, Mai decided to push her boundaries and challenges yet further by venturing to the Isle of Mull for an extraordinary placement with the Iona Community, at their remote outdoor activity centre, run predominately for inner-city adolescents to have week-long residential, off-grid community experiences.
Mai explains: “This seemed like the perfect opportunity for me; a chance to explore environment-focused lifestyles and gain experience working with this age range. Just before I left I was a bundle of excitement and nerves, with no idea what these five months would actually entail and told I had “to go to understand”. In the end, it far exceeded my expectations.
“I came back with a wealth of experiences, reflections, confidence, self-development and understanding, a fascinating dissertation topic, and renewed enthusiasm for working with young people in a therapeutic sector.
“My prior experience meant I could actively participate in developing the centre’s policies and practices towards water-based activities and, on several occasions, I could give vulnerable children and adolescents additional support; teaching and supporting non-swimmers and (with an introductory qualification in British Sign Language) enabling a deaf child to still participate in all our activities even though this meant frequent removal of his hearing aids.”
When asked what her major challenge at Essex was, Mai candidly reveals: “It is striking to think that this journey almost didn’t happen. Within the first months, I realised that I was struggling to read and process much of the learning material at the average pace and frightfully considered leaving the course.” However, with the invaluable assistance of her personal tutor and the support services at Essex, she got the essential support needed to navigate these difficulties, ultimately enhancing her university experience.
Mai highlights the people she encountered in her department as the most unforgettable and fulfilling aspect of her academic journey. The sense of community she experienced went beyond just fellow students, encompassing dedicated faculty members and captivating guest speakers. These interactions have left a profound impact on Mai, serving as a great source of inspiration, and fostering valuable connections that extend far beyond the confines of her course.
Through one such connection, Mai has started working in a children’s therapeutic care home which will accompany her MA at The Tavistock and Portman in Perinatal, Child, Adolescent and Family Work. After Graduation, though, Mai is taking a well-deserved holiday to explore New Zealand.