Carly graduated from Queen’s in 2016, receiving her BAH in Global Development Studies and Spanish and Latin American Studies. Since graduating, she has received her MSc in Brazil in Global Perspective from King’s College London and is currently pursuing her PhD in Latin American Studies at the University of Cambridge. Her doctoral research focuses on the NGO-ization of pro-Black activism in urban Brazil, investigating the forces that motivate pro-Black social activists to align themselves with international NGOs, and the concessions and compromises incumbent in such collaborations.
Her degree at Queen's significantly contributed to what she is doing right now:
"I’m about to start my PhD in Latin American Studies at the University of Cambridge and my degree from Queen’s in Global Development Studies and Spanish and Latin American Studies played a significant role in the academic path I chose after graduating. Being able to study both Global Development and Latin America allowed me to combine two areas in which I am extremely passionate, providing me with the academic foundation I built upon in my graduate studies and professional experience."
For Carly, the most important aspect of her time at Queen's was her professors: "Being a student in the Department of Global Development Studies (DEVS) and the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures (LLCU) in two very small degree paths provided me with professors who were not only some of the best minds in their fields, but who were genuinely passionate and dedicated to teaching and mentoring their students. Both DEVS and LLCU provided me with incredible people who encouraged and challenged me in my academic studies, but also honestly cared about me and took the time to mentor me in all aspects of my life. For me, a true teacher isn’t someone who solely provides you with information, but is someone who makes you a better person in any and every way, whether it be through the course that they taught or the way that they challenged you or supported you personally. My best professors were not only that, but were my mentors as well, teaching me course material, as well as teaching me about how to think, how to be critical, how to be skeptical, how to be honest and how to be dedicated. They taught me skills that go far beyond any lecture hall or academic institution. They have made me not only into a better student, but into a better person. If it weren’t for these people, I would not have been as successful as I was during my time at Queen’s, or during my time after. For me, I am truly a testament to the professors and mentors who saw something in me and believed in me, who were dedicated not only to their craft, but were passionate about passing on their knowledge and enthusiasm on to me, and who were happy to challenge and nurture me as a student and a person."
When it comes to recommendations to prospective students, Carly is aware of the fact that there are no concrete answers:
"Something that my experience has taught me and watching the experiences of my friends and colleagues is that we all navigate our own paths. However, that being said, those journeys teach us a lot about ourselves and we have to be willing to be self-reflective, critical and constructive. For me, a lot of it was just figuring out what I wanted and what I was interested in or not interested in. Don't be afraid to look for the things you're really drawn to and go for them. You'll have to do a lot of research, and sometimes, it can be a lot of trial and error, like it was for me. And it’s so important to remember that someone else’s experiences or path may not be for you. Going through Fourth Year, I found that there were a lot of assumptions and beliefs as to what a successful post-graduate future was supposed to look like, whether that be going back to school or getting the perfect job in your field of study. But everybody’s different and my experiences and my successes don’t necessarily translate to someone else, because their path is unique to who they are and who drives them. We just have to be willing to try new things, be unafraid to fail, and be ready to learn from any and every experience we have.
Honestly, the rest is a bit of luck and a lot of risks, which, again, is not at all good advice. I have been immensely lucky to have had mentors and professors in my life who inspire me and challenge me to do and be my best. A lot of it for me was going through all those uncertain times where I just didn't know what I wanted and didn’t know where I would go, and then seeing an opportunity come to me and not being afraid to take it. And that's not to say that everything has been smooth sailing because it hasn't. I had a lot of times where it felt like a lot of the choices I made for myself weren't paying off and it was hard not to feel discouraged by that or to feel like I was ever going to find those things that spoke to all of my passions. But sometimes, you just have to be willing to go with the flow a bit and see what's out there and try new things, because things will come eventually. You just gotta be willing to keep sticking yourself out there and working for yourself. You're going get a ton of rejection (Believe me, I did.), but life doesn't end there. You just have to keep being willing to put in the work and go with the flow of life a bit. You have to work hard, but you have to be flexible too. Our paths are our own and one person’s successful journey doesn’t necessarily translate to generalizable success for everyone. Be dedicated and passionate about what interests you and be willing to put yourself out there, because you are your best advocate and no one knows you better than you do.
There are definitely aspects of my path that I think back on and think I would change knowing what I know now and who I am today, but in reality, I don’t think I actually would make those changes if I could go back. The experiences, both academic and personal, that I had during my time at Queen’s have made me not only the student I am today, but the person I am. Queen’s provided me with exactly what I needed during that point in my life, giving me the space to challenge and be challenged by some of the most pivotal people in my academic career. It provided me with an incredible breadth of knowledge and a wonderful foundation on which I continue to build on today. But the greatest things I learned from my time at Queen’s came from my confidence in that foundation and in my own desire to know what else was out there. DEVS and LLCU provided me with professors and mentors who taught me some of the most important aspects of my own educational foundation, but they also instilled in me that I should never be satisfied with a single answer, a single perspective or a single outcome. These spaces and these people gave me some of the most valuable tools of my education and helped to make me into who I am today. So, ultimately, no, I don’t think I would do it differently, because then, I wouldn’t be who I am today and that is something of which I am much more proud than any single, tangible accomplishment."
Despite leaving Queen's, Carly feels strong connection with her Alma Mater:
"One of the greatest post-Queen’s graduation experiences I have had is the continuation of the strong connections I had with my professors who invested so much in me during my undergrad. For me, graduating and leaving Queen’s did not alter the dedication and kindness these professors showed to me. These connections and mentors are people from which I continue to seek council and advice in numerous events and experiences in my life. They continue to celebrate my successes with me and are always willing to take the time to advise me during times of insecurity and uncertainty. It is honestly one of the greatest pleasures to have been taught and mentored by these professors, and to continue to have them as confidants, colleagues and friends today. My successes are truly a testament to them and it is my greatest honor to be able to provide that for them after years of unwavering support and dedication."