Kay Polidano

I was born in Malta, a small island state in the heart of the Mediterranean sea, where I have lived for most of my life, in a close-knit family of four. The shining sun, sandy beaches, tasty food, and friendly locals have defined some of my fondest childhood memories.  

Since a very young age, I viewed the world around me with a sense of critical curiosity; always seeking to question and challenge what was taken-for-granted. It was only later that I came to recognise this outlook as a form of ‘sociological imagination’. A way of thinking which recognises the intimate connection between the personal and public/ self and society (which has nowadays become a common thread in my scholarship). This outlook inevitably gave rise to a passion for social justice, equality, and activism, so when it was time to pick my undergraduate programme at the University of Malta, choosing Sociology was a straightforward decision. After I graduated with a Summa Cum Laude, I decided to leave my home country to pursue my studies abroad with the aim of broadening my knowledge, social connections and life experiences. I relocated to the Netherlands, where I embarked on a Master’s degree in Sociology, specialising in social problems and social policy, at the University of Amsterdam. Both the international context and content of this programme instilled in me an appreciation for cross-cultural diversity in relation to social issues.  

During that time, I also found myself dealing with a chronic health problem, which brought me into close contact with the medical system. This experience soon inspired me to apply my sociological imagination to the study of health and illness, which eventually led me to pursue doctoral research in the United Kingdom, at the School of Medicine, Keele University. My project focused on the mental health needs surrounding stoma formation (a radical and life-changing surgery), where I was able to apply my social science training to theorise about lived experiences, including the psychosocial impact of stigma, as well as acquire new skills in applied health services research, by exploring barriers and facilitators to help-seeking.  

Fast-forward to the present, I am now a Lecturer in Public Engagement and Global Health and I will be advising on the incorporation of Community Engagement and Involvement (CEI) throughout the different phases of the project. I feel incredibly lucky to be working on this fascinating project which combines all my research interests: social science theory, cultural diversity, stigma, policy and applied health. For the duration of the ECLIPSE project, I will continue to be based at Keele University, and although I will be far away from the Maltese sunshine which I absolutely adore, I have (gradually) learned to grow fond of the English rain and grey skies, and I feel very proud to call Britain my home.