Ella was an undergraduate student in Mathematics and Philosophy between 2001-2005.
- When you were a student, did you imagine you'd find yourself doing what you do now?
No! I never contemplated graduate study when I was an undergraduate (or if I did, it was only to dismiss the idea). And I certainly never imagined I'd study statistics - as an undergraduate I enjoyed the really pure stuff.
- What has been your biggest career challenge so far?
Finding the right one for me. I was a secondary school maths teacher, then worked in market research. Neither suited me, although I'm proud of helping my students come to an understanding and appreciation of mathematics. I'm hoping that the MSc in Applied Statistics will open doors to a career I find rewarding.
- What advice would you give your student self?
Work hard, and make sure that you have a life outside that work as well. And don't beat yourself up when you don't understand something at first. No-one should expect everything to come easily.
- What do you like/miss/remember most about Oxford Mathematics?
My tutor. I was so lucky to study with someone both brilliant and kind. She was an inspiration then, and now.
- What do you hope you'll be doing in ten years' time?
At the moment, I think working as a statistics researcher/lecturer at a university, but every time I've had even a five year plan in the past, I haven't ended up at the end of that where I thought. And that's fine - I don't want to be so set on a path that I'm blind to other opportunities. Even though I've been in jobs I haven't been well-suited to, I've still learnt a lot from them - both about different jobs and about myself.
- Do you describe yourself as a mathematician?
No. These days I'm working towards being a statistician instead. But my partner likes to introduce me to people as a mathematician - she thinks it sounds cool (and certainly cooler than statistician!).
- What do you enjoy doing when you are not working?
Spending time with family and friends, cooking (and eating), playing clarinet and cycling. The MSc has a pretty intense workload, but I wouldn't expect anything else of a one-year course at Oxford. Being a student, there's always more work you can do! It's important to know when to take a break.