University of Brighton Alumni Association

Postcards From The Edge – A Life Story

Mat Smith studied for a Masters in Cultural & Critical Theory from 2012 to 2014, graduating with a Merit. Little did he realise that his career would take a different path to the one he had planned….

* What you have got up to since leaving the university?

I left university for mental health reasons in 2013, took a break from studies and then completed my degree the year after. Little did I realise at the time that my life had been catching up with me for decades. Mentally and physically I was really struggling – I knew that what would happen next would be a case of make or break.

Following various short-term jobs over a period of years I eventually went to therapy. It was the one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life. It helped me to get everything on track and to look forward positively and constructively to whatever the future might bring.

Since then I have been involved in a number of different projects including launching a website, starting a business, being involved with a music venue and helping to produce a book title. I also managed to squeeze in a round the world trip along the way!

I’ve recently been accepted onto a PhD programme in Health Studies – Health Humanities (Mental Health) at the University of Nottingham. It took me three years to gain a place and after applying at a number of FHE providers for what seemed like forever I was beginning to lose hope.

However, the moral of the story is that if you have a project you believe in and a story that needs to be told then somewhere, somehow, you’ll find a way.

After all, look what happened to me.

* What you are doing now?

I’m currently a full-time researcher and am busy writing a text book. I’ve got a series of blog articles in the pipeline for a new website, which I’m hoping to get off the ground very soon. This article is my first ever blog so thanks to all of the readers for being understanding!

Being something of a middle-aged technophobe I’ve only just gotten around to setting up a Twitter Account (MatSmithRIP). Anyway, I’ve been networking on LinkedIn for a while already, which I find really engaging. Most of my communication is through WhatsApp, although I am partial to the odd FaceTime on special occasions.

Further information on my background and research/writing projects can be found here:

* How your degree helped you with your career?

I’m proud to say that my post-graduate studies at Brighton brought out my fighting qualities. The programme taught me a huge amount about the skills of argumentation, the need to support all of my opinions with both knowledge and experience and no matter how hard things get to never give up. Having that inner belief is one of the things that’s kept me going and brought me to where I am now.

Right now I’m focussing on being the best version of myself that I can possibly be, all the while encouraging others to be likewise. Life comes first, everything else comes after.

* Any tips for students or recent graduates?

Always do your best to give your best. Believe in yourselves, back yourselves, have faith in your skills and abilities as well as in your life experience. You are the greatest asset in your life and you can be an asset to others in ways you might never have imagined. Your potential is boundless and your reality is all that you make of it. Whatever you do and however you do it, always remember you have the capacity to be outstanding.

* A standout memory from your time at Brighton – something you really cherish.

I used to refer to my time at Brighton as ‘riding the crazy train’, which on reflection says more about me than it did about the study programme. In any case I would like to give a shout out to all of the cohort and to the teaching and research staff at Pavilion Parade, many of whom I’m still in touch with.

Whatever happens next, thanks for the memories!

Nic Ashton • October 19, 2021

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