Graduation week - Odette Hornby returns to USW for PhD

Odette Hornby PhD student Addictions / Psychology

We are marking another graduation this week. Congratulations to Odette Hornby, who will finally cross the USW stage in her cap and gown, though she achieved her first-class Psychology degree in 2020. Since then, she has gone on to complete her Masters at Sheffield Hallam University and returned to USW to study a PhD in sports psychology.

“I really enjoyed my undergraduate course at USW and that’s why I am back here. I had fantastic support from my lecturer, Professor David Shearer, who is now my PhD supervisor. I went to loads of Open Days, but it was the sense of community at USW that jumped out for me. I liked the fact it wasn’t a huge campus and that everyone was friendly. When I came back for an applicant day, the lecturers remembered my name. It felt like they cared, which really stood out for me.

During my undergraduate studies, I volunteered for Elevate, a coaching charity. I went to schools in Barry and worked with ‘high risk’ pupils, looking at understanding their behaviour and improving their attendance. This was very rewarding.

And now I am back to study my PhD. As part of this, I am teaching first-year Psychology students. It is very weird being on the opposite side of the classroom, as it hasn’t really been that long since I was in the class, but I am enjoying it. It is lovely to be seeing people face-to-face again.

My PhD research focusses on the parallels between extreme sport and addiction.

I was drawn to sports psychology because the mental aspect of sport is really interesting. I read around the subject and became interested in helping athletes in their performance.


I used to compete in fencing at a high level and no-one really talked about mental health back then. I was part of Team GB at World and European Cups, I was young and the pressure of performing became one of the reasons that I wanted to help other athletes manage this.

I really enjoy rock climbing and hiking too. When I was 18, I took a gap year and volunteered in Africa and then at an orphanage in Nepal.  We helped to build playgrounds and taught the children English. Whilst I was there, we trekked to Base Camp on Mount Everest. That was an amazing experience.

Me and my fellow sports psychology PhD students are currently working with Team Wales in the run up to the Commonwealth Games. I am working with Team Netball on performance anxiety, bringing them together as a team, as well as understanding their individual roles within the team.

Even though a lot has happened in the last two years, I am still looking forward to celebrating the first leg of my USW journey.”