There will be three reasons for graduation celebrations in three different countries for Veronica Cunningham and her daughters Rachel and Zara this year.
Veronica, originally from Sligo and Galway in Ireland but now based in Oslo, Norway graduated as one of Robert Gordon University’s (RGU) first cohort of Doctor of Information Science (DInfSc) students. Rachel meanwhile graduates with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) from Parsons New School in Paris and Zara graduates with a BSc International Business Administration from Erasmus University in Rotterdam.
Rachel has now started an internship in Paris but Zara, along with Veronica’s husband David, and her principal supervisor Professor Dorothy Williams will be there to see her receive her doctorate.
Veronica, who has also worked in Belgium and the Netherlands, said she decided to go back to university because she was increasingly aware, like others working in the fields of education and library and information science, of the major changes resulting from the advance of the world-wide web and the shift towards e-learning and online information and communication.
“I wanted to better understand how to lead, manage and create better prepared students and support colleagues and parents in the school community to effectively and creatively participate and learn in this changing environment,” she said.
Veronica wanted a university which would give her the chance to combine subjects which would be relevant to her professionally and would achieve her personal objectives and did a lot of research to identify the right one.
“I was very aware that my work supporting young students to become effective researchers would benefit if I returned to study and refresh my own research methods. I was also determined to undertake research that would help me better understand the ways a school community understands information literacy so I could work in partnership with colleagues to develop a more relevant curriculum.
“The professional doctorate programme at RGU represented the best fit for my personal and professional growth as it offered a unique combination of subject knowledge development, research methods and the opportunity to carry out research relevant to challenges I was facing in my role as a school library manager.
“RGU also gave me the chance to do my doctorate on a part-time distance basis which is important when you work full time in the international arena and are raising your family.”
Veronica praised the support which she’d had from her family, friends and colleagues and the supportive, caring and professional network at RGU, especially her “excellent principal supervisor” Professor Dorothy Williams.
“RGU did a particularly superb job of combining top class lectures and seminars in the subject knowledge development aspect of the programme but also by creating opportunities for us to share our research as we progressed through the various stages,” said Veronica.
She will now spend time over summer preparing articles based on her research for publication. She said her doctorate research had opened up many exciting opportunities including giving a presentation at an international librarian conference in India next year, being invited to write a chapter for specialist librarianship book, starting up her own consultancy in Oslo and teaching Theory of Knowledge to student pursuing the International Baccalaureate Diploma on a part-time basis.
“My advice for anyone considering or working on a doctorate is to keep your eyes on the prize and believe that your research will potentially help to extend, enrich and challenge the current thinking in your subject area.”
by Kate Yuill
Communications Officer | Business, Management and Law
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