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Professor Lynne Gabriel

Director: York St John Counselling & Mental Health Clinic

Lynne Gabriel

I started out in mental health nursing many years ago. Since then I've been a mother, journeyed through training to be a counsellor and became a late entrant to academia 16 years ago. I was 'first in family' to attend university. Many years ago, I walked across the York St John campus and thought 'I'm going to work here one day': and here I am, in the best job of my working life.

In my early working-class years, family aspirations were for me to work in a department store. In adulthood, my partner, friends and colleagues have been great advocates of the importance of pursuing my ambitions. In later adulthood and at York St John, I have had encouragement from a senior female colleague to "Just do it!" Needless to say, I did do it: setting up the University's Counselling & Mental Health Clinic and becoming a professor.

There is a great old North East expression: "shy bairns get nowt!"

I have never seen myself as a role model, but if I have in any way influenced others to strive for their dreams and to achieve their best, then my work and contribution is affirmed. Connecting with, being with students, is a challenging yet phenomenally rewarding part of my work. In relation to colleagues, I have a great admiration for young female academics coming through – they are truly awesome and inspirational.

It would be naïve to claim that there are no gender tensions in academic communities. We are competitive, just like other work settings. Over the years I have learnt to trust my judgements, swallow my pride, and to reach out to others to build working relationships. Whilst gender matters, sometimes it boils down to being human, compassionate and collegiate, and sharing a vision to do our best for the York St John community.