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Elise Gear, of the Richard Huish College Class of 2015 is a former The Castle School pupil and currently completing a Psychology PhD at Royal Hollloway, University of London. At Huish she studied Psychology, Dance, English Language and Law and enjoyed Performing Arts enrichment.

“I knew I wanted to complete A Levels and Huish seemed the best option to me as a prospective college student in Taunton. I attended the Richard Huish Open evening with my parents and visited all the available subjects. I knew from my GCSE options what I did (and didn’t) want to pursue further based on my predicted GCSE grades and what I enjoyed the most.

“It was during my time at Huish that I found my passion for Psychology, specifically Clinical Psychology, which has led me to the career path I am now on. I became particularly interested in Adult Psychopathology and booked appointments with the careers service at Huish and with my personal tutor. In these sessions I explored the different courses available at different universities and set about booking open days to attend with my parents. I had a year out between leaving Huish and attending university where I worked as a Health Care Assistant.

“In 2016 I attended Royal Holloway University of London (RHUL) to complete my BSc in Psychology, Clinical Psychology & Mental Health. I graduated with First Class Honours on my 22nd birthday and was offered a £9,000 scholarship from the Royal Holloway and Bedford New College Trust to complete a Masters degree (Msc) in Clinical Psychology; which I completed in September 2020 with Distinction and a grade average of 80%.

“I have since been the very fortunate recipient of a second scholarship (a departmental studentship) to complete a 3-year PhD in the Psychology department at RHUL under the supervision of Dr Lyn Ellett and Dr Jessica Kingston. My undergraduate degree graduation has been the absolute highlight of my education so far. It was an incredible day, surrounded by my family and the wonderful friends I made on my course. Coming a close second is the offer of my PhD studentship after my first and only application – I never imagined I would have been a successful candidate!

“My research interests lie in the experience of paranoia within the general population, termed ‘non-clinical paranoia’. Prior to the outbreak of the pandemic, I had planned to spend my time as a PhD student establishing behavioural indices of non-clinical paranoia via the use of virtual reality technology in an attempt to overcome the many issues with self-report questionnaires in the diagnosis of mental health conditions. However, this has been temporarily postponed following the closure of research labs across the country!

“Alongside my studies, I also teach on a second-year undergraduate Psychology course – Research Methods and Analysis – and work in a voluntary capacity as an editor for a pedagogic research group within the Psychology department at Royal Holloway. I have also just started a new role as a Specialist Mental Health Mentor, aiding undergraduate students with complex needs to navigate life as a student in higher education”.

Elise is currently conducting the first study of her PhD; an online survey entitled ‘Wellbeing in the Workplace’. She shared “considering the duration of time individuals spend at work every week, it is crucial that research is conducted so that we can understand, and subsequently reduce, experiences in the workplace that might lead to poor wellbeing.”.