• Simone McKenna



Welcome to the fifth issue of the PHI journal. Our guest editorial comes from Simone McKenna who completed the BSc Public Health Programme last year and is currently studying on our MSc Public Health Programme. Simone won the prize for best undergraduate public health dissertation.

When I first heard I needed to do a dissertation in my final year BSc Public Health, it seemed pretty daunting and challenging, being a lot bigger than your usual assignment. However, I was also very excited, knowing that I had a passion for writing, as well as getting the chance to do a research project on a topic of my own choice, and pursuing my very own path. I had so many topics in mind, it was hard to choose one. I had already started thinking about potential topics as early as first year. I realized this is what is so interesting about public health, it is such a broad area with so many fascinating topics to research, with great scope for such intriguing, solid and well-informed research. When it came to actually doing my dissertation, I decided on a topic I was really passionate about: the impact of Instagram on body image in adolescent girls and young women. This ended up being a rewarding experience for me-getting to do a research project on a topic I was genuinely invested in, as part of a university degree in a renowned research institute. This meant I was particularly motivated, with the impact of Instagram on health and wellbeing having particularly resonated with me as a young woman who used social media. Independent learning/working is another skill of mine, and so I was thrilled at getting the chance to apply and develop this skill. I have been lucky enough to have supervisors who have been really helpful and supportive throughout my dissertation, making the whole thing a lot easier and less daunting for me, with regular and much needed encouragement. Currently, I am doing my MSc Public Health, further preparing for a career in research. I am working on another dissertation, this time looking at the topic of Adverse Childhood Experiences, another special interest of mine. Helping create better support for children and young people with Adverse Childhood Experiences is really important to me. This is something I have solid insight on, as well as a genuine concern for children and young people with Adverse Childhood Experiences and the various barriers they face, wanting to help make a difference and reduce those barriers. Choosing a topic that you are well-informed on and genuinely care about is key to conducting a good dissertation. Conducting your own research project is truly an amazing feeling and experience, as you are creating your very own piece of work to contribute significantly towards society. You can expand on many issues that are only viewed from a snapshot lens, or even overlooked, providing deeper perspectives. I am therefore pleased to see the continuing contributions of research that students have to offer, as they will all be sure to enhance public health knowledge and practice.

Simone McKenna