Ashly Isac

Ashly Isac March Graduation Profile 31st March 2023

It was music that put Ireland, and DCU, on the map for Ashly Isac when deciding where to pursue a Master’s. “I’m a really huge Cranberries fan, and Hozier,” says Ashly. “I had a soft spot for Ireland for a long time, so that definitely helped me narrow down my choices.”

From Kerala in India, Ashly had originally imagined they would end up in Toronto where their sister lives. But DCU was one of the few universities worldwide offering an MA in Children’s and Young Adult Literature. “Fate had different plans, I guess!”

“It was a really good experience,” says Ashly. “What I really liked about the course was it was very specifically children’s and young adult, so that really helped refine my interests in one specific place.”

Ashly found that the programme offered a comprehensive overview of the subject. “There was a really good understanding that you start from the very beginning. You start from histories and contexts and they give you the theories as well. They give you a really cohesive understanding of children’s and young adult [literature].”

Ashly is full of praise for the teaching staff and small class sizes, which contrasted with the experience at undergraduate level in India. “Here, you had that really close interaction,” says Ashly. “The classroom communication, the classroom atmosphere, I loved it.”

The Master’s programme introduced Ashly to the richness of literary genres such as picture books. “That was a whole genre of children’s literature that I wasn’t that really aware of and I just got really really interested in picture books.” 

A particular favourite was Shaun Tan’s wordless graphic novel, ‘The Arrival’. Ashly wrote their dissertation on post-colonialism and gender in the book, saying that “every single time I would get something new out of it.”

Since completing the Master’s, Ashly has embarked on a PhD at DCU. Studying at this level is a goal they have had in mind for quite some time. “Ever since I was young I wanted to do something related to teaching, so academia was definitely on the cards. And I think around 15 or 16 I knew I wanted to do a PhD. I didn’t know what I wanted to do it in, but I wanted to do a PhD.”

Ashly’s doctoral research is focused on the work of author Tanuja Desai Hidier and her portrayal of female adolescents of South Asian heritage in America. They hope, ultimately, to secure a teaching position in Higher Education. Whether that happens in Ireland or elsewhere, Ashly hasn’t yet considered: “I have career goals, I’m not sure about location goals!”