Emer McHugh – NUI Galway – PhD

This week’s past pupil profile comes from Emer McHugh.
1. Tell us about the university course you are currently undertaking – subjects studied, work experience etc.?
I’m currently doing my PhD in Drama and Theatre Studies at NUI Galway, where I’m completing a thesis on queer and feminist Shakespeare performance in Ireland. I also teach in the Drama department too. Prior to that, I completed a BA in English, History, and Theatre & Performance at NUIG, before going on to do a MA in Shakespeare and Theatre at the Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham.
2. What subjects did you study in Magh Ene College and how do these relate to your current university course?
I studied Maths, English, History, French, Biology, and Irish. I knew I wanted to do English and History for my primary degree as I loved studying them in school, but it was really English that was my great love. I read so many great poets and novelists while at Magh Ene: Harper Lee, Eavan Boland, Shakespeare (which I now specialise in!), and Sylvia Plath (one of my very favourite writers — I still love reading her work, and would recommend The Bell Jar and Ariel to anyone). It also allowed me to hone my writing skills.
3. What extra-curricular activities did you get involved in while in Magh Ene College and how have these helped you so far?
During Transition Year, I joined Sligo Youth Theatre as part of my Gaisce award (I still have my Bronze award at home somewhere!), and it changed my life. For a few years, I went to weekly workshops, acted in productions, did a lot of improv, made amazing friends, and generally had so much fun. I don’t think I’d be doing what I’m doing now, were it not for that. It was a massive turning point for me.
4. What is your education/career plan for the future?
My plan is: finish this thesis first! After that, I’m keeping my options open: either an academic career, or an industry where I can apply the skills I’ve honed during the PhD, such as the arts, marketing, or copywriting. Whatever happens, happens. To be honest, I’m just excited about the possibility of having a debit card with ‘Dr Emer’ on it.
5. What other advice would you give to current students in Magh Ene College?
If you find something you really, really love doing… start working at it, and keep working at it. If you want to be a writer, for example: read read read! And practice your own writing, too. And, sometimes, when one door closes another opens. I went and auditioned for a place on Trinity College’s drama degree during my Leaving Cert: I didn’t get in, and I was devastated. I ended up going to NUIG, and look where I am now. Things have their weird little way of working out.
We wish to thank Emer for taking the time to complete this interview and wish her all the best in completing her Doctorate and in her future career!!

Past Pupil Profile Emer McHugh