Sara Ashencaen Crabtree

My first academic break came after finishing my MA in Social Work in the UK and obtaining my first lecturing post in Malaysia as that university’s first full-time, qualified social work academic. It was a very exciting time developing new programmes and embarking on what turned out to be my doctoral research in mental health. Later I took up another academic post in the United Arab Emirates allowing me to research my ground breaking co-authored book Islam and Social Work now going through it’s second edition. From there I jumped at the chance to join the prestigious Chinese University of Hong Kong working in the area of social work, diversity and racial discrimination – and thereafter was recruited to join Bournemouth University to increase their research credentials in social work. I went on to develop sociology in my School/Faculty, helped to found the Women’s Academic Network at BU and was eventually promoted Professor of Social & Cultural Diversity in 2015.

But this hasn’t been a series of serendipitous, easy jumps. Throughout all of this I have borne and raised children, faced crises of bereavement and ill health, lost and rediscovered a soul mate, faced insecurities and unhappy work situations.  All in all I would characterise my career as definitely picaresque: rich in adventure and opportunities, at other times lost in the doldrums but always juggling multiple tasks and carrying a mostly fulfilling and creative workload.

So what has helped me? Apart from a happy home life, helpful mentors, good, loyal friendships, humour, quick learning, ‘doing as you would be done by’, sorting wheat from chaff: work that matters versus that which doesn’t - above all, ‘keeping the faith’: camaraderie, resilience and self-belief.