Born and raised in Swansea, Alys’s whole experience of school was in Welsh, her first language, until a degree in Education at Bath Spa University.
After working in schools, her return to research happened in less than ideal circumstances, in the autumn of 2020 when the country was between lockdowns. Arriving in Cambridge to pursue an MPhil in Knowledge, Power and Politics in Education, Alys found that all in person teaching was on hold.
"We had to be quite self-disciplined, which isn't one of my greatest strengths! And I was a bit apprehensive coming back into education. But because everyone was working from home, we were all in the same position and I really valued my course mates because of it - we built a strong cohort."
Living in north Cambridge with two teaching friends, Alys was able to use the year (which “flew by”), to adjust to the city and the University, as well as to the rhythm of academic research, before beginning work on a PhD this year.
“The past year has actually really settled me. A lot of the friends I made last year have now gone, because it was only a one year course, so I’ve slightly got to start again from that point of view! But I know the city now, and I know what I’m doing here.”
Her PhD explores Nationalities and Identities in the Curriculum, and will look particularly at Welsh identity and how that is shaped by the curriculum.
“I feel I’m losing my Welsh a little bit now, the longer I’m in England. We spoke both English and Welsh at home growing up, but I always spoke Welsh to my grandparents.”
Tomorrow will provide an opportunity to reconnect with home, as Alys’s parents attend her graduation and visit her in Cambridge for the first time, to say “llongyfarchiadau”.