I graduated with a BA in 2008 and with an MA in Social Work in 2010 from Vytautas Magnus University in Lithuania.
My Masters thesis was entitled ‘The Analysis of the Need of Social Day Services for People diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in Kaunas District’. As part of my Master degree, I spent time studying at the University of Applied Sciences, Osnabrueck.
I focused on Social Work, and International Business and Management and became increasingly interested in the relationship between people who have limited opportunities in society as well as the private market within the context of social policy and sociology.
I have previously worked as a social worker in a children day care centre. In addition to this, I was assistant to the international expert in the Academic Network of European Disability Experts (ANED), and also have experience in working as a project coordinator and geography teacher.
During, and immediately after my MA studies I was working in different research teams carrying out social research. This experience formed my current fields of research, which are social policy, disability and markets.
My motivation to do a PhD at Leeds
During my Masters studies I started to consider a future in academia and my supervisor encouraged me to follow this ambition. I decided to attend this university because I was interested in disability studies and business, and how these two interact with each other.
Since the University of Leeds is one of the strongest higher education institutions in the UK when it comes to disability studies and also offers courses which are unique and innovative, I decided to continue my studies here, with the university far exceeding my expectations.
My research is on ‘Effective Customer Policies for Disabled People in the Private Market’ and aims to explore potential actions which must be taken in order to transform disabled people’s rights as customers of mainstream private goods and services as stipulated in the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) into practical applications.
Indeed, the UN CRPD sees the participation of people with impairments in the mainstream private market as essential for their full involvement as members of society. In light of this, my project focuses on all key-stakeholders’ communicative action and mutual understanding of the multidimensional mechanisms within the private market which 1) exclude people with impairments from the mainstream market and 2) have the potential to increase their inclusion as equal customers.
The knowledge obtained from all key-stakeholders will enable the provision of guidance regarding what state governments, private companies, disabled people organisations and disabled people themselves should do in order to create conditions for a more accessible and more inclusive market. Since the UN CRPD recognises accessibility to information and communication technologies (ICT) as essential for full participation in the information society, ICT is considered as an example of and a case for the accessible market.
The data will be collected from four countries (United Kingdom, Lithuania, Belgium, and Finland) which will illustrate the broader situation at the European level. Indeed, these countries are particularly relevant since one of the tasks is to provide recommendations for the development of EU disability law and policy reform in light of the UN CRPD.
The environment in the School of Sociology and Social Policy is friendly and supportive, and the quality of study is excellent. For me, these two factors are essential for involving students and generating interest among students which encourages them to pursue further studies.
The research environment in the school is excellent. We are all presented with many possibilities to participate in a wide range of seminars and conferences, which meet our particular interests. The help of the supervisors is invaluable.
They are approachable, professional, encouraging and at the same time provide a great deal of space for my personal academic discoveries and development.
The library offers great facilities and possibilities. The International Students' Office and other support services offer free, fast and exceptional support and advice not only at the beginning of the academic year, but throughout the year, for anybody at any time.
I belong to the Centre of Disability Studies at the School of Sociology and Social Policy. The free seminars which they offer expand my knowledge and social network, whilst also introducing me to other fields of research, which in turn encourages my research aspirations.
My brother is planning to continue his studies outside Lithuania. Although he still has a few years left, I am already suggesting that he come to Leeds as the environment, quality of study and the city are all excellent.
Outside of study
I am extremely interested in pottery and swimming, so I attend pottery classes and aqua gymnastics. I am also planning to join a hiking community, as I thoroughly enjoy travelling and this will also help me to become more familiar with the place I live.
When I finish my PhD I would like to continue to work in academia. Indeed, I already have a number of research plans related to my present research and would like to explore the disability and market field in the future.