We Are Essex

Lisa's story

Lisa McPherson headshot

"It sounds bad, but the glamorous side of crime interests me. Rather than get involved in it, I prefer to study it."

I want to go in to helping society, but not just generic “I want to help people”. I want to help everybody; victims, but also offenders. Doing Criminology opens up the pathway to do that. Also, by doing a Masters your pathway is more specific. So my dissertation is on victim satisfaction – so it looks in-depth at how victims are treated and how victims are neglected in the Criminal Justice System. I just did an essay on secondary victims of homicide and how they’re treated. They’re so neglected; it’s really interesting how that can happen when they’re such a main part of a crime. I’m very people based. Anything to do with people and crimes to do with people, I’m into that.

On a personal level I enjoy studying East End criminals like the Kray’s and the Richardson’s. I grew up in East London in quite a rough area. So I saw people mistreated by the Criminal Justice System. I’ve grown up seeing different sides of it. Doing it as a degree, I’m getting to learn the nitty gritty and seeing what can be done to change. I did my undergrad dissertation on East End criminals. I interviewed my family and I found out a lot of things I didn’t need to know. Where I’m on the legal side of Criminology, they’re all on the other side shall we say!

My Grandad is my inspiration. He passed away when I was 10. He was very East London, very cockney. He’d wear trousers and a shirt to work, and he was a builder, don’t ask why! He moved up to Lincolnshire and when we went to visit him we’d have story time and I’d be the first to run over and sit down! He’d start telling us about all these criminals, I didn’t know they were real stories and involved him. I just remember thinking it’s all so interesting, learning about the Kray’s and the Richardson’s when I was younger. I was brought up on that. It sounds bad, but the glamorous side of crime interests me. Rather than get involved in it, I prefer to study it. I think that’s the better option. My Grandad ignited that passion. And my mum always told me ‘if you want something don’t wait around for it, go get it’, then if it doesn’t happen at least you tried.

When I started my undergrad degree I felt like I knew what I wanted to do, so I picked Criminology. And then approaching finishing my undergrad I knew I needed to do a Masters because I wasn’t ready to go into the real world yet. So now I’m just thinking ‘what do I actually want to do’. I know where I want to go with things and the bigger picture of what I want to do, but it’s finding the jobs that specifically do that! I’ve got 12,000 words due in next week and I’m thinking about that. But then I also need to think about career path and what I want to do afterwards!

I always wanted to stay at Essex to do my Masters because Essex is my home. This is the best place to go to uni, I think! But one of the main factors was how much I loved being a Student Ambassador. So one the main things for me was staying whilst working for the uni. As a Senior Student Ambassador I’ve worked with the Essex Events team a lot, and it’s given me so much work experience, and more confidence to go and get a job. If I can stand up in front of hundreds of people and talk to them about my life as a student, I can deal with a criminal in front of me working as a Probation Officer! So that was my test – if I can deal with a room full of Year 12’s, I can deal with one criminal in front of me. It’s been the confidence boost I needed. I think my Masters and my part-time job here has helped a lot.

Essex is not just education; it’s social, it’s employment, it’s everything. There’s more to it than what other universities. Doing your undergrad here and then carrying on, you keep a relationship with your department. The Sociology department is the best department ever, and I just wanted to carry on the journey I already started. And the alumni discount at Essex helps. My part-time job here as Senior Student Ambassador pays quite well so I felt like I could afford to do my Masters here. I could afford to pay and live here, and work to cover everything. So the Alumni Discount helps a lot. Taking that extra year to think about what you’re doing whilst you’re gaining another qualification is so worth it. Employers will be impressed by showing how dedicated and consistent you are

 

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