Gary Donnelly

What job/study are you doing right now and tell us a little about it?

I'm doing an AHRC-funded PhD in Philosophy at the University of Liverpool. I also teach undergraduates a few times a week, which I suspect is more fun for me than it is for them! When I'm finished the plan is to teach, write some books and generally have a nice time involved in the dissemination of a subject I love.

Did you do any further/higher education?

I went to Carmel College and studied History, Media, English and Psychology. After that, I went to LJMU to do English and Media before dropping out. It took me almost six years to go back to higher education, when I embarked upon a BA in Philosophy. A year after that, I obtained a Masters in Philosophy (primarily Indian Philosophy) and continued on to a funded PhD specialising in Indian Philosophy (and ancient Indian languages).

How did you decide on your career path and what is/was most interesting about your work?

It was suggested to me by my Mum! Dissatisfied with menial work and having returned home from a year living and working in Portugal, I decided I needed a degree in order to get out of the rut I was stuck in. Six years later, I am nearing the end of my PhD, teaching, and as happy as I have ever been. The most interesting part of my work is probably the research into what remains a chronically misunderstood area of religion and philosophy, but the real reward is in teaching young people to think in more abstract ways and seeing their progress.

Can you share a couple of fond memories of your time at St Cuthbert's?

Beating the teaching staff in the sports day tug-of-war is an enduring favourite.

Did you have a favourite/influential teacher? What made them so important to you?

Mr Anderson showed us all the value of tolerance and compassion (and wrote me the best reference when I returned to university in late 2010!). Mr McAuley was the firm-but-fair 'cool' teacher that always tried to accommodate all of our idiosyncrasies, and Mrs Tickle instilled in me a work ethic and confidence that I've retained to this day. You only realise later on how teaching staff affect your outlook. I did well out of this school.

What advice would you give our current students?

Work hard but don't think it is the end of the world if you don't get to where you want to be come results day. There are always opportunities and alternative routes. Just do your best.