Study Type: School Leaver Academic
Study Location: Joseph Wright Centre
Subject Studied: A Levels
Professor Sarah White looks back fondly on her time as an A-level student at South East Derbyshire College, now part of Derby College Group.
Sarah, who is Professor of Experimental Psychology in the Department of Neuroscience, Psychology and Behaviour at the University of Leicester, studied English Literature, Psychology and Biology at the college, gaining straight As.
After A-levels she attended Durham University where she achieved a BSc Hons in psychology and then went on to achieve a doctorate and undertake a post-doctoral position at Durham
Sarah said: “I’d originally thought about studying English Literature at university as I’m passionate about reading, but during my time at college I came to see that a psychology degree would enable me to develop a broader range of skills and build on a wider range of interests.
“I enjoyed my years at South East Derbyshire College. At that time if you were registered on certain courses, you could access evening classes at college for free or at a substantially discounted rate. I took a drama course in the evenings which proved to be extremely valuable in my academic career.
“The opportunity to be on stage helped boost my confidence. I was able to draw on this experience later when speaking in public and giving presentations.”
During her two years at college, Sarah also worked towards the Duke of Edinburgh Silver award and is grateful to her teachers for their encouragement.
She added: “My A-level biology teacher Wendy was also my personal tutor. At that time schools and colleges didn’t have the resources to assist students on the Duke of Edinburgh Award programme.
“Wendy knew I was having difficulty completing my award independently so she helped me link with other people so I could take part in the expeditions. Teachers like Wendy showed they genuinely cared about their students.”
Sarah, a lecturer (now Professor) at the University of Leicester since 2006, is undertaking academic research around eye movement control during reading.
Her current focus is on understanding how reading goals (e.g., skimming for gist) modulate the mechanisms underlying eye movement control and comprehension.
Sarah’s sister Rachel Dearden (formerly White) also attended South East Derbyshire College for A-levels and like Sarah, also went on to undertake academic research. Rachel completed a PhD and a post-doctoral position at the University of Birmingham.
She is now a senior project manager at the British Geological Survey.
I enjoyed my years at South East Derbyshire College. At that time if you were registered on certain courses, you could access evening classes at college for free or at a substantially discounted rate.