Skip to content Skip to navigation

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Blog

Other Blogs

Seen and Heard: A Lesson in Resilience and Embracing Inclusion

4 March 2024

4 mins

Growing up as the youngest of three girls, I was always encouraged to consider other people’s perspectives and to understand diverse experiences – a lesson instilled in each of us by our late mother. She was a strong yet compassionate woman who always demonstrated a level of mental toughness I admired, and this early exposure to empathy and inclusivity, laced with a fierce sense of justice, laid the foundation for my lifelong commitment to understanding and acceptance.

In 2014, I was introduced to the concept of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) – a framework for inclusive teaching and learning that resonated with me strongly. Since then, I have actively incorporated the key principles of multi-modal learning in my teaching practices. However, it wasn’t until I was 40 years old when I discovered I have ADHD that I realised why UDL held such resonance with me. Suddenly, the challenges I had faced throughout my life, but particularly in my academic journey, became clear. I’d always known I had to work hard to achieve good grades at school and I had assumed this was just how it was for everyone, but since learning that ADHDers have to work twice as hard as neurotypical people, I felt validated: concentrating for long periods, sitting still and remembering key information never came easily to me, and now I knew why.

Navigating the academic landscape with ADHD comes with its own unique set of challenges: for example, one of the traits of ADHD is rejection sensitivity dysphoria (RSD), which means we take rejection super personally. As an academic, rejection is a frequent occurrence in the job – grant applications, paper publications, bored-looking students as you try desperately to deliver the most engaging lecture of your life (but feel constrained by the directive to deliver two-hour sessions and get timetabled in the graveyard shift)…I could go on. My point is this: it takes a lot of resilience to stay the course and a daily effort to overcome the constant internal chatter that says you’re “not good enough”.

It was this experience of going through the process of coming to terms with my diagnosis and finding my way in a new world that really brought the importance of inclusion to the fore. My line manager, my colleagues, and my School have all truly embraced the meaning of creating an inclusive work environment, and for that, I could not be more grateful. I have never felt more seen, heard, and crucially supported than I have in this past couple of years. I finally understand that my “butterfly brain” is a strength as a scientist, my sensitivity is a gift in empathising with my students, and my poor working memory is not my fault. I also understand that just because I can do twice as much work in half the time, doesn’t mean I should – and it certainly can’t be sustained. That way, burnout lies! This entire experience has shown me the transformative impact of genuine acceptance and support in the workplace, and I am committed to “paying it forward” by extending this acceptance to support others.

So, when the opportunity arose to apply for a role as Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Lead for Learning & Teaching in our School, I knew instantly I wanted to apply, and I have been so lucky to work alongside Dr Chris McLeod in this role as co-lead, to drive forward the strategy to foster a truly inclusive teaching and learning ecosystem within our School. As a team, we are dedicated to inspiring inclusion and empowering others to embrace diversity, to create a culture where everyone, regardless of their background, feels valued and included.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, I invite you to draw inspiration from others around you, considering their experience, their resilience, and their commitment to inclusion. Together, we can create a world where everyone feels seen, heard, and empowered to thrive.

Dr Mhairi (Vari) Morris, Senior Lecturer in Biochemistry

More information about the International Woman’s Day programme at Loughborough University.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Reflections, comments, discussion and opinion on EDI topics from Loughborough University staff and students

Scroll to Top