Balancing it out

Although Dr Ronan Ryan came to Victoria University of Wellington ready to focus exclusively on his studies, he soon found university life was about more than hitting the books.

Dr Ronan Ryan

The PhD graduate says he intended to keep distractions to a minimum while at Victoria but “deviated from that plan by forming some friendships that are certain to be life-long”.

“The highlight of my week was hanging out with a crew of other postgrads at Milk & Honey on Friday afternoons.”

But this social aspect of Ronan’s time at Victoria was all part of his educational journey.

“Victoria helped me to learn that I could improve my efficiency by having a better-rounded work/life balance.”

Ronan’s PhD was in English Literature. “My main goal at Victoria was to become the best writer I could be during the time available to me.

“I was incredibly lucky that my supervisors understood what I hoped to achieve and they went above and beyond in supporting me.

“Graduating with my PhD, after spending years striving towards it, has given me an added confidence, which has stood me in good stead going forward.”

After graduating, Ronan moved to Dublin to pursue a career as a writer. His debut novel—The Fractured Life of Jimmy Dice—was published late last month.  

The novel is a family saga about physical trauma, grief, and love, told by a ghost. Set in Ireland, it revolves around luckless Jimmy Diaz and a series of jarring ordeals that he endures. The narrator is his twin, who died during birth and can’t communicate with anyone in the ‘real’ world, but finds solace in chronicling the stories of others.