It’s all adding up for Paul McMenemy who is graduating as a Doctor of Philosophy, after completing a PhD in Mathematics.
Now in his 40s, Paul joined the University nearly a decade ago through the Access to Higher Education programme, which helps mature students who have been out of education for a time to gain entry to a degree course.
His decision to come to Stirling was inspired by a late programme director.
Paul said: “I was actually late in applying for entry to the Access programme but Jim Bradley met with and interviewed me. He asked me to complete the entry assessment over a weekend and, thankfully, I was successful. I don’t think I would have returned to university if it wasn’t for Jim. It was a special moment when he met me the day I graduated with my honours undergraduate degree in 2012.”
Originally from Denny, Paul worked in retail management for almost 20 years before pursuing his studies.
He said: “I always had an aptitude for mathematics at school, and initially thought about being a high school maths teacher. I quickly realised that I really enjoyed learning in-depth about computing science and maths.”
As an undergraduate, Paul worked as a calculations analyst at Prudential, before taking on a teaching role while a postgraduate student. Just five years after sitting the Data Skills module on the Access programme, Paul began teaching it.
Paul said: “I have had the pleasure to teach numerous undergraduate maths students. I am always so happy to meet students I have taught who are graduating and this year there are a number of Access students graduating with honours that I taught in 2013. This gives me a real sense of pride.
“Working full-time and being a full-time student was my biggest challenge as an undergraduate – it was tough going! During my PhD, I struggled with confidence, especially working alongside such experienced academics, so it was a great feeling when I submitted my final thesis and passed my viva.”
Professor Adam Kleczkowski, Head of Mathematics at the University, said: “Paul has had a fantastic journey at Stirling, coming back to university through the Access programme and gaining a first-class undergraduate degree, all while continuing to work. When he embarked on his PhD, he started teaching the same Access programme he had attended just years before. Paul has always been very enthusiastic and incredibly hard-working; a great friend and colleague and an example to other students and staff.”
Paul’s research examined norovirus within the shellfish industry, focussing on it can be controlled and reduced by the use of mathematical models. He now begins the next stage of his academic journey as a post-doctoral researcher within a collaborative software development research project involving Stirling and four other universities.
Paul said: “I’m looking forward to working under Dr Gabriela Ochoa and continuing to forge a path in research – for me, it’s a tough but rewarding career choice. I have been lucky enough to learn from so many excellent academics, as well as my fellow PhD students, at Stirling. In particular, I’m grateful to my supervisor Professor Kleczkowski, and fellow students Adrian Worton and Vincent Marmara. As it turns out, I have too many great memories of Stirling to count – it’s been the best decade of my life.”