Get to know PhD Student – Valentina Bertotti


In this month’s newsletter, we would like to introduce PhD student, Valentina Bertotti from the College of Education, Psychology and Social Work.

Valentina’s recently submitted thesis, “Choosing a pre-school: An affective-discursive analysis of parental decision-making in the South Australian education market received outstanding results from the examiners.

We asked Valentina to share what led to undertaking a PhD, an enjoyable part of the journey to the hardest and what the future holds.

Tell us about yourself

I was born and raised in northern Italy. I love languages, and after spending a year here in Adelaide to learn English, I decided to move Australia, because I had always been fascinated by this country and its magnificent landscapes. I am very passionate about education, second language acquisition and foreign cultures. I have a daughter, whom I have raised by myself, and with whom I am extremely close. I value honesty, integrity, and justice above all else, but also think that humour is fundamental in life. In my free time I like to travel, read, exercise and spend time with my daughter. I also adore animals (especially cats) and volunteer for the RSPCA.

What led you to undertake a PhD? What inspired or motivated you?

Once I completed my Master of Teaching, I started working as a preschool teacher and had the opportunity to observe firsthand the consequences of the marketisation of early childhood education (ECE). I caught up with one of my old professors and, after chatting for a while, I decided that I wanted to investigate how the ECE sector was affected by market forces. So, I applied for a PhD and began my journey as a researcher.

What is the topic of your PhD and why is it important to you?

My PhD was a qualitative investigation of the discourses, affective relations and processes characterising parental choice-making in the preschool sector. This was important to me because, as a single mother, I am directly impacted by the broader social implications of choice, as well as some of the inequalities that are imbedded in it.

What has been one of the most enjoyable parts of the journey?

I think one of the most enjoyable parts of the research was seeing the thesis finally come together. After reading so much, and drafting separate chapters so many times, there were times where I felt disheartened and, in all honesty, even a little bored of the repetitive nature of the work. But once I started collating all the chapters, and the ‘story’ started to take shape, I felt immensely proud of myself. That was definitely a wonderful feeling!

What has been one of the hardest parts of the journey?

A PhD can be quite an emotional journey, I found. It can be a very lonely time, full of ups and downs, and it is easy to feel isolated and hopeless at times. For me, the hardest part was having to change supervisor many times, due to a lot of unforeseen circumstances and structural changes. However, my passion for the topic and my ‘stubbornness’ helped me to stay focused and, eventually, find an excellent supervision team, which led me to completion.

What are your future goals and plans? / Where do you see your career heading in the future?

I decided to do a PhD because I have always wanted to become an academic, so I guess that would be my dream, in terms of future career. I am currently in the process of publishing some articles from my thesis and have received a couple of short-term contracts working in academia. I guess the future is very much unknown, but I am trying to keep a positive mindset whilst I keep applying for jobs.



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