Ones to Watch: Emma Kirby

Welcome to part one of our new ‘Ones to Watch’ series, in conjunction with the University of Cumbria’s Alumni team. We think all University of Cumbria graduates are amazing, and are proud of each and every one of you. Occasionally we get to hear about certain individuals who are already making a huge impact, despite only graduating recently. Those who have really applied themselves whilst still a student; taken advantage of every opportunity and worked exceptionally hard to get where they want to be. 


Emma Kirby

BA (Hons) Primary Education with QTS

“I had the pleasure of working with Emma in her role as student ambassador in the alumni office. She was always keen and enthusiastic (even on the mundane data entry tasks!), it is great to meet a student with such ambition and determination. She was such a hard worker, always in the library and going the extra mile for her assignments. Emma squeezed every opportunity she could out of her time as a student, earning extra money, skills and gaining experiences whilst supporting the university through her  work as a student ambassador.

“I had absolutely no doubt that Emma would do well in her degree (she got a first!) and would have no trouble securing a teaching job. Emma would make a fantastic asset to any school and she is destined to go very far!” 

– Joanne Lusher, Alumni Office

Course: BA (Hons) Primary Education with QTS

Campus: Fusehill Street, Carlisle

Graduation year: 2014

Hometown: Harrogate, North Yorkshire

Current job: I have just started my NQT year in a Year 5 class at a school in Harrogate.

What made you choose the University of Cumbria?

I visited the university on an open day before I made my choice, and I loved the fact that the campuses are so small and compact. The tutors were nothing but welcoming and I really got a sense of community there. The small class sizes also attracted my attention, as you really get the opportunity to achieve your maximum potential and make some really close friends. Carlisle has a lot to offer as a city, and I loved the fact that it is located right near the Lake District. Not only that, it has great travel links to Manchester, Newcastle, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Why did you choose your particular course?

From a young age I have been interested in teaching. The Primary Education course at the University of Cumbria offered some great opportunities, such as a variety of placements across Key Stages 1 & 2. The course also gives you the opportunity to undertake an alternative placement in education, which I completed in Finland.

What did you like most about your course?

Something I enjoyed the most was the small class sizes of about 20-30. We had several lectures altogether as a cohort, but the majority of our seminars were as the small group. We gave each other support in the times we needed it and I have made some lifelong friends from the class.

What was your favourite experience at university?

My best memory of university was our leavers ‘assembly’. We had the chance to celebrate everything we had achieved and look towards the future.

How did coming to university change your life?

In my first year I moved into halls of residence, which proved to be challenging. Coming straight from sixth form, at first I found it difficult to adapt to living away from home. I learned how to cook and how to manage my money to make sure I had enough for my shopping. University really is the time you grow up and become more independent. Moving away from home has provided me with invaluable life skills and I am already missing it now I am back home!

Did you make any lifelong friendships at university?

Over the three years, I have made some lifelong friendships. Despite the fact that we are dotted around the country, I know we will stay in touch and visit each other as much as possible!

What were your career ambitions when you started studying and do you think that you have achieved them?

When I finished university my ambition was to get a teaching job straight away and after plenty of job interviews, I have done just that.

Would you be where you are today, without your degree?

I have always wanted to go into teaching and my degree has allowed me to take the first step on to the career ladder.

What are your current career ambitions now and in the long-term?

My current career ambition is to carry on teaching and progress up the career ladder, hopefully taking on a subject leader