Caroline Horton fought tooth and nail first to do her masters and then to study for a PhD, experiences that have made her determined to become an academic.
Ms Horton is researching the memory of dreams at Leeds University's Institute of Psychological Sciences. She said: "I'm absolutely sure I want to go into academia. I really like both the research and the teaching side of things. Hopefully I'll be able to get a research post or a lectureship somewhere. Anywhere!"
But her journey has at times proved tough. "It hasn't been at all easy to get funding. At one point it turned into a real trauma," she said.
"I didn't get funding for my MA at Durham University, so I had to work pretty much full time. I worked as a research assistant, a volunteer in a psychiatric hospital, and had a few bar jobs. It was a hectic year."
But the work paid off and she has since secured funding from the Economic and Social Research Council for her PhD, which she aims to finish in two years.
Ms Horton is one of the many postgraduate students who is satisfied with her PhD supervision.
"It's wonderful here. The department's fantastic, and the support's really excellent," she said.
"I moved to Leeds to work with my supervisor, Martin Conway. He's a bit of an international superstar so I'm 100 per cent grateful to be able to work with him.
"It can be hard to get time with him but that's the nature of academic work. You just have to be strong enough to nag."
Part-time lecturing at Leeds Metropolitan University and working as a tutor at the Open University provide Ms Horton with useful teaching experience.