Higher Degree by Research Student Spotlight: Meg Wilkinson

31 Aug 2020

Each month we shine the spotlight on a HDR (Higher Degree by Research) student within the School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences. 

September 2nd is National Health & Physical Education (HPE) Day so we caught up with Meg Wilkinson who is balancing her career as a HPE and Science Teacher with completing her PhD.  

What inspired you to undertake a PhD?

I always knew that I wanted to complete more study, but I definitely didn’t expect to go into a PhD straight away! After graduating my Bachelor of Health, Sport and Physical Education, I was completely undecided about whether to begin teaching in Physical Education or Special Education, so naturally, when I received an email from one of the Professors in the HMNS School asking if I would come and work on a PhD focusing on sport for young people with disabilities I couldn’t say no! I began a part-time PhD and a full-time teaching role in my first year out of university – the best of both worlds.

What are your key research interests?

My key research interests involve policies and procedures informing the participation of students with disabilities in Health, Sport and Physical Education. I would love to learn more about how young people with disabilities (particularly high support needs) engage with and experience sport, and further, how we can provide more opportunities for these young people to participate.

What is your PhD research project about?

My PhD is spot on with my research interests! I am researching the policies and procedures required for safe, effective and sustainable physical education and sport for young people regardless of disability.

What do you enjoy most about being a PhD student?

I love learning! I am someone who loves to be challenged, and this is definitely a process that has stretched me. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to study under such wonderful and respected supervisors, and learning from their wisdom would be what I most enjoy.

What is one piece of advice you would give to someone thinking about studying a PhD?

Don’t let the fear of not being good enough stop you. For the first part of my PhD journey I battled with whether or not I was good enough to be there. In the end, it is your passion, drive and hard work that will make a difference. If you are committed to working hard and dedicating a portion of your time to something that excites you – go for it! I know that if I turned the opportunity down I would regret it and always wonder ‘what if?’

What three words would you use to describe the life of a PhD student?

Challenging, gratifying and busy

What do you like to do in your spare time when you are not working on your PhD?

What spare time?! I am a full-time HPE and Science teacher at Mueller College – a secondary school on Brisbane’s northside. I love working at Mueller. I run the Netball Academy at the school and love spending time working with all the amazing students. When I am not teaching, or studying, I am walking at the waterfront with my husband or playing Scrabble!

What are three words your fellow PhD students would use to describe you?

‘Who are you’ probably! Doing my PhD part-time and working full-time means I am not on campus. I’m hoping that once I take a step back from full-time teaching I will have more opportunities to get to know all the other amazing PhD students within HMNS.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I am not entirely sure, but I definitely want to be working with young people with disabilities, and I definitely see sport being a part of that work. I am interested in using sport as social and community development for people with disabilities in developing countries. I could potentially see my husband and I working overseas in this capacity. I would also love to continue researching and learning!