Author Archives: Shema

The King and I

Recently, I received an invitation letter from the Saudi Embassy Cultural Bureau in London. On behalf of the King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, the Ambassador HRH Prince Mohamed bin Nawaf bin Al-Saud invited me along with a group of other postgraduate students across a range of disciplines, who are studying in the UK. We have been selected because we have been deemed to have achieved excellence during our studies and we are held as an example of distinguished post graduate students. The Ambassador HRH Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Al-Saud celebrated with us, together with the celebrations of Saudi National Day on 24th September in London.  We are celebrating our 82nd Saudi National Day this year, which is a very important event that is in memory of the final reunification of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by King Abdulaziz in 1932. King Abdulaziz’ mission was to bring peace to region and to restore Islam.

At the time I found out, I was so happy that the first thing I did was call my husband and children to inform them. I then attached the invitation letter and forwarded it to my supervisors, friends and colleagues to share my happiness. I was so excited each time when I thought about the celebration day. I prepared my bag and the first thing I put in was my camera! I wanted to take some photos to never forget this valuable event.

Celebration started with a reading from the Quran and welcoming speeches. Then Dr. Faisal Al-Abukhail (director of the Saudi Cultural Bureau) spoke about the progress of achievement in Saudi Arabia. He said that the Kingdom’s has allocated more than 25 % of the State’s total expenditures and more than 100,000 students study overseas in 2012.

Following this, the Ambassador addressed and congratulated all of us. He described how he was delighted and proud of our achievements. After that he also expressed his hopes that all Saudi students with overseas scholarships would be able to utilize their distinct experiences and transform the Kingdom into a knowledge based society on their return. After his speech we were presented with certificates. In terms of my selection as the distinguished student, it was due to a number of achievements. I graduated in 1997 with a first class honors degree in Nursing from the King Abdulaziz University, and then achieved a first class Master’s degree in Nursing from the King Saud University in 2005. Recently, I presented my at an international Conference in Egypt in 2007, and last academic year (2011) I was the winner of my research poster during the SONMS Annual Postgraduate Symposium. Since then, my poster has been accepted to be presented at the 38th Annual Meeting of the International Society for Paediatric and adolescents Diabetes (ISPAD), to be held Istanbul, Turkey from 10-13 October, 2012.

I think it is difficult to express my feelings and I will never ever forget this spectacular ceremony and celebration. Really it was like a dream and the opportunity of a lifetime. I am currently collecting and analysing my project data. I hope my achievements will continue with my project and I will have good results, be able to achieve my research project aims, and will be able to introduce new strategies for diabetes education in Saudi Arabia.

I’d like to express my special thanks to Dr. Katie, my supervisors and my colleagues for their advice, support, guidance and encouragement, which is always timely throughout my PhD study. Last, but not least, I wish to thank my husband and my children for their everlasting patience and their encouragement. Without their support maybe I will never be one of the outstanding students and achieve excellence during my studies.






I Won!!!!!

I received information recently from Mina Kerai (who is the research administration support assistant at SONMS) sent on behalf of Dr. Katie Featherstone. She has informed all the second year research students about our Annual PGR Symposium, which will be held on Tuesday 13th November 2012. We are required to attend this event and to give a 25 minute presentation outlining some of our preliminary findings from our data analysis.

Last year, when we celebrated the SONMS Annual PGR Symposium at our University, all research students attended and presented information about their research project in the form of a poster or a presentation. I was so excited at that time, but I was not sure whether I would have enough time to do my research poster due to my busy schedule. But I decided to spend all my free time at the weekend and made a research poster.

This was my first experience of producing a research poster. However, I got some ideas from Jessica and Catherine (my office mates) and from their posters that are placed on our office wall, as well as some ideas from both my supervisors. I designed several sections including the background of the study, study aims, methodology and research impact (outcome continuum and expected outcomes). You can see the results of my work below.

Although making a research poster was a challenging task – presenting my project on a single sheet of paper – in general I found that this task helped me to focus more my ideas about my project. I stood next to my poster during the lunch break on the day of the symposium and answered some questions of each delegate and other visitors. At the end of the symposium day, the Dean and Head of School announced me as the winner of the poster presentation that I had titled “Teaching self-care behaviour to adolescents with type 1 diabetes in Saudi Arabia’’.

Yes! I Did !!  🙂

I won first prize and a voucher for simply presenting my research poster at the SONMS Annual Postgraduate Symposium 2011.  I can hardly believe it. The competition took place as a part of the celebration of SONMS annual post graduate research symposium day. The decision was based on quality of content and design. So, the committee judged my poster as excellent. Incredible!!!  In addition, I was also very happy to talk to people about my research project. I think it can be really inspiring to see that people are really interested in your research. For me it is even more inspiring to see the impact that my research can have on people. After that I also presented my research poster two more times at Graduate School activities in 2012 – Spotlight on Social Sciences and The Voice of Humanities Conference.

I have new good news about my research poster. I had submitted an abstract to the Annual Meeting of the International Society for Paediatric and Adolescent Diabetes (ISPAD). The abstract review committee has informed me that my research poster has been accepted as a poster presentation :))

So soon I’ll be presenting my research poster again at the 38th Annual Meeting of ISPAD, to be held in Istanbul, Turkey from October 10th –13th, 2012. I look forward to it!!!

PhD Study & Success:Can I do it?

I attended the conference of Spotlight on Social Sciences 2012 on Friday 30th March at the Graduate Centre. The programme started with registration, which was followed by an introduction to the event, and then a very interesting presentation with the title of ‘’Studying violence and self-harm in forensic and clinical settings’’, by Professor Robert Snowden from the School of Psychology. There were also talks and poster presentations throughout the day. I attended talks such as health psychology, family and health, as well as family and gender. Although all the presentations were interesting, the presentation ‘Research as a Rollercoaster’ was the one that best explored my experiences with my research study.

PhD studies require dedication and commitment to succeed. Therefore, I asked myself what was I feeling when I started my PhD programme?  I was so happy and I have really enjoyed the last year in my life, although I faced a series of opportunities and pressures as a 1st year PhD student. I understood that many students have gone through it before, so I took the opportunity to learn from their experiences and listen to their advice in order to manage the process of my project and improve my own success.

The content of this presentation also reminded me of the workshop “The Seven Secrets of highly successful researcher students” in 2011. The seven secrets (Kearns and Gardiner, 2008) include:

1) Care and maintenance of my supervisor.  I have to regularly meet them to discuss and negotiate my progress. I have to understand that I cannot produce a thesis without them!

2) Write and show as you go: this is show and tell, not hide and seek! Because, writing and showing my work forces me to stay on track and refine my thinking. I have to remember writing is essential and a thesis is writing work. Thus, set deadlines for my writing and for handing in.

3)  Be realistic: it’s not a Nobel Prize. Always remember, when I am writing a thesis, I am also learning how to do research. Original work means one step in advancing existing knowledge. I have to stay focused and accept I can do only do my best and that is good enough. I think it is better to write even when I think what I write is not good enough.

4) Say no to distractions: even the fun ones and the ones I think I must do. It’s fine to do other kinds of work while doing my thesis. However, I have to set priorities and be realistic about what I can do. Consult my diary or an objective person before saying yes to new opportunities.

5) It is a job: that means working nine to five, but I can have holidays. Although I do not have work nine to five, I definitely need regular hours and a proper work place.  I have to set deadlines and stick to them in order to get free time in the evenings and weekends and take holidays.

6) Get help when stuck: Because I am not owner-operator single person business! I have to ask my supervisor about sources of assistance and get help from statistics, methodologists, and academics in my department or at other departments, as well as peers.

7)  I can do it: A thesis is 10% intelligence and 90% persistence and I have the 10% already. If I feel like an impostor, I have to be assure myself that most people writing a thesis feel this way. However, the other 90% comes from my habits, like meeting regularly with my supervisors, doing effective plans, sticking my plans and treating my research like a job. I have to accept my own limitations and believe that I can do it, so just keep going!

Finally, when I reflected on the effectiveness of my progress during the first year, it was like ‘Rollercoaster’’, up and down.  I understood that I have to maintain a work/life balance and build a strong supportive network that will give me more resources to draw on when my work or personal life is challenging.  To improve my writing, I learned that there is one useful strategy, just get into the habit of writing one page per day. Even my writing is poor quality and I am not sure how this fits into my thesis. Just write one page per day. In a few months I may have enough stuff to put together a very rough draft. Although I may have to throw away a lot of those pages, I may end up using some of them too. Moreover, this one page per day habit may benefit my psychologically. I will feel that, at least, I am doing something every day. I think it gives me feeling of some kind of progress.