Rona tells us about her PhD experience

PhD. graduate, Rona D Linklater, has always had a passion for education. Upon retiring from her rewarding career teaching music, she didn't feel ready to stop learning so embarked on a research journey to discover how the human brain reacts to sound in relation to memory loss.

After teaching music for 42 years at high school level, it wasn't until after her retirement that Rona became absorbed with how the brain reacts to sound and how it can benefit people with memory loss. Rona notes that her experiences gave her an insight into "the power music has to motivate, support and change lives", and as such, her PhD journey to discover this segment of Cognitive Psychology began.

Rona D Linklater
Rona D Linklater

Rona has always been an education-focused person, achieving many qualifications throughout her life including a first-class degree in Music and a Master's degree in Education Management. Rona has shone throughout her career in education, developing and progressing in her numerous roles and inspiring others to love music.

Upon reflection, Rona states that one of the highlights of her career is her time spent as the Assistant Headteacher at Penwortham Girls' Grammar, where she was responsible for managing the Specialist Humanities and Music College status. Rona has also worked as Head of Music and Head of Faculty for Individual Needs at Trinity College, London, where she taught music and inspired children aged 11 to 18.

During her time as a mature student at the University of Central Lancashire, Rona felt "supported and encouraged" throughout her studies, giving particular credit to her supervisory team who gave her the confidence to challenge herself and succeed.

"Completing the PhD over six to seven years as a mature part-time student was challenging, frustrating, and at times bewildering, yet fascinating and totally absorbing. The whole experience taught me to be more evaluative and self-critical and deepened my resolve to set targets and work to deadlines."

Rona on the impact of studying a PhD at UCLan

Having successfully submitted her PhD thesis in 2020, Rona has explored ways to share her research findings with a broader audience and is currently focusing on seeking publication of her research in 2021. Additionally, Rona was delighted to be given the opportunity to further her already prosperous career by supporting ongoing research at UCLan.

In her current role as a Research Reviewer for the Journal of Cognitive Psychology, Rona reviews online articles for potential publication, evaluating the submitted research's strengths and weaknesses and sends her thoughts to the relevant associate editor. Rona is part of a team of worldwide reviewers whose comments make up the shared feedback to the original research author(s).

In the future, Rona is looking forward to contributing to further exploration of music-related strategies to support memory, focusing on developing music/sound files for online experiments and reviewing articles in her chosen field.

When asked what advice she would give to graduates wanting to do something similar, Rona said: "As a very mature student, working totally outside my comfort zone and educational background, you never know your level of achievement until you try."