Allie Ford Keelite of the Month March 2013

Allie Ford 1998 Astrophysics & Chemistry 2002 PhD Astrophysics

What am I doing now?
Working in Melbourne, Australia as a Learning Skills Adviser at Monash Unviersity.
How did you get to where you are now?
I worked for a year at the Open University before landing a job as a postdoctoral researcher at Monash. I quickly realised that research wasn’t for me and started getting involved with as much lecturing as I could. I ran a first-year Life in the Universe subject for ten years, as well as observational astronomy, core science and maths subjects. While I love lecturing, there was always pressure to research, or take on huge amounts of teaching which meant I couldn’t put as much into my classes as I wanted, so I switched tack. Now I help students with a whole range of study skills from time management to writing essays. Along the way, I’ve also taught chemistry at a college associated with the university and I ran a gymnastic club for more than four years!

What has been your biggest achievement so far?
Every time a student gets in touch to say that they have achieved their goals, succeeded in an assignment or enjoyed something I’ve taught. Oh, and being invited to be a Keelite of the Month!

And your biggest mistake?
I’m sure I’ve made a great many, but the important thing with mistakes is to learn from them and move on.

Allie Ford What are your ambitions now?
I dream of returning to the UK. I miss my friends and family, the history of the place, and the winters. I’m a winter person so I really struggle with Melbourne summers and 45C days! Unfortunately for me, my other half is quite attached to Melbourne, so any move probably won’t be for a while yet.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to work in a similar field?  
It doesn’t matter what subject your degree is in. A lot of university study is about learning to think for yourself, critically analyse information and become a lifelong learner. If you can do these things, you’re set for whatever field you want to work in. That, and never let an opportunity pass you by.

What made you choose Keele University?
I had a free period while I was studying for my A-levels at college, so I visited the careers lounge and flicked through the UCAS course listings. I was trying to decide what to do at Uni when I flipped to the Keele entry for chemistry and astrophysics. Something clicked. I kept looking, but kept coming back to the same course. I visited Keele for an open day during my lower sixth year, got off the bus on campus, and the rest - as they say - is history. I was in love with the place from the first moment. I used two of my application options for different Keele courses to ensure I could get in to the one I wanted!

What kind of a student were you?  
I worked hard on my studies, but I balanced them with running Keele LINKS (the student branch of St John Ambulance) for three years, as well as being Speaker of the House for the Students’ Union, and regularly attending SciFi and Fantasy Society meetings.

How has Keele influenced your life?  
How hasn’t Keele influenced my life? I found myself, made many lifelong friends, discovered new passions and earned my PhD at Keele. I even met my partner while studying!

Photo: Wearing my Keele robes at a Monash ceremony

What is your favourite memory of Keele?
You can’t expect me to choose! Here are a few... Ushering at graduation ceremonies (including my own!), standing in for the Queen at a run-through for the 50th Anniversary ceremony, walking around the lakes by moonlight, first aiding for Rugby 7s and the Shakespeare performances at the Clock House, using the astronomical observatory, ordering pizza during late-night study sessions at the Physics building, regular chats with the wonderful newsagent ladies, eating chips and beans at the diner, walking onto campus from ‘Thorns in knee-deep snow, being woken at 4am by cows in the field behind the ‘Thorns flats, being snowed in one New Year because the doors to the block opened outwards, walking to Keele services for late-night snacks, the anxiety and nervous tension before results day, wanting desperately to be one of the squirrels when the pile of due assignments got too big... I’m sure I remember every moment of the six years I was at Keele!

What is your impression of Keele now?  
I visited very briefly in January this year. While some things have changed (new buildings, the diner in the Union), at its heart, everything was still Keele. It’s the little university that could - and does. I’m so proud to be a Keelite - the fact that it continues to win social media contests against universities many times its size says so much about the amazing community that is Forever: Keele.

Anything else you would like to add?
Thank you to the alumni team for the wonderful job you do of keeping everyone in touch with Keele!