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Sean Gallagher

Could you tell us a little about your time at Warwick?
I chose Warwick because it was close to where I lived and did a course which I knew I’d love. One of my best experiences was being able to go on a one-month archaeological tour of Greece. This was part of a summer school programme held by the British School at Athens. My lecturer, Prof. Fabienne Marchand, actively encouraged and supported me in applying for the opportunity. The department even offered advice on how to apply for a grant to pay most of my costs! It was an amazing opportunity and I am really grateful to Fabienne and the department for both highlighting the opportunity and being so active in encouraging me to take it. Touring Greece and seeing the sites, artefacts, topography and geography of the ancient world really brought my studies to life. We can see, walk over and literally touch an ancient civilization, the effects of which still reverberate through our own times. One of my favorite lecturers remains Mr Clive Letchford, who teaches Latin and Greek. I found learning an ancient language from scratch, as well as adjusting to university life, very challenging. I received a lot of pastoral and academic support from Clive which greatly benefited me and for which I am very grateful. He really has a knack for knowing where his students are at and what they need to advance to the next stage in their learning. Two of my most inspiring lecturers remain Dr Suzanne Frey-Kupper and Dr Clare Rowan. Their breadth of expertise in the field of numismatics is awe inspiring, and their lectures caused me to fall in love with the study of ancient economies. They really are experts in their field, and being able to draw from their experiences and insights really advanced my own learning. Both were an invaluable support in writing my dissertation, and their teaching helped me obtain a First Class degree.

Any memories from graduation?
Graduation was an amazing moment. It really is a lot more serious than I thought it would be! The faculty staff, whom we have been working with throughout our degree course, are all attired in ceremonial robes, and degrees are officially conferred to the students. It was an incredibly proud moment, both for the staff who had invested so much in their students, and the students themselves, who had worked so hard to get to that point.

What have you done since graduating from the Classics Department?
Since graduating with a First Class (Honours), I applied to Warwick Business School to complete a postgraduate MSc in Business Consulting. The department and all the staff were incredibly supportive, and did not hesitate to provide strong references for my application. What does your current role involve? I’m currently working on my postgraduate thesis (which involves conducting a lot of primary research!) My field of investigation seeks to identify the epistemological and socio-cultural challenges faced by English as Foreign Language (EFL) students and how these challenges affect educators within UK academia.

How do you think your degree study has or will help you in your future career?
It is very difficult to quantify the skills gained during my undergraduate studies. In Classics, you are exposed to a wide range of subjects and topics, all of which require different skill-sets and approaches. This kind of environment provides a rich training ground where students can sharpen and hone their academic skills. The ability to critically engage with source material – whether an ancient artefact or a piece of ancient literature – is something which is very valuable. You are encouraged not to take things at face value, but rather to identify the contextual frames within which something exists, the reasons and motivations behind that thing, and the results and consequences of it. This is a skill which can be effectively applied to any field of study, and a skill which would be advantageous in any industry. As I now complete my postgraduate in Business Consulting, I am applying these techniques in order to determine commercial value and in identifying stakeholders within commercial contexts.

Imagine yourself back in your first week at Warwick. If you could offer some advice, what would it be? Remember that your undergraduate studies are a training. You are not expected to know everything, because the field of study is so vast! Instead, you should remember that the lecturers are training you in your acquisition of academic skills, to be able to dissect and critique data in an academically rigorous way. This is different from just learning about the subject content; the methods and approaches you will be taught are, in my opinion, the really important bits. You will be able to apply them to whatever you choose to specialize in. Once you have a general understanding of the various fields of study, you will feel more confident in choosing an areas of specialization which really interests you. The three-year undergraduate programme is a really great opportunity for this, as it gives you time to understand what you are genuinely passionate about. As the course progresses, you will find yourself gravitating to areas of specialization which will eventually become your areas of expertise.