Alumni Interview: Rebecca’s Degree Success!

Alumni Interview: Rebecca’s Degree Success!

How would you describe your time here at Walkden? 

I really enjoyed my time at Walkden, and I was sad to leave! During my time at school, I was probably best known for being the girl who beat all the boys on sports day in the 1500m! Although I passed all my GCSEs, I was never the highest performing academically.

Who influenced your love of History? 

When I started to study History for my GCSE, I really began to enjoy the content of our history lessons, learning about how turbulent the twentieth century was. I was very lucky to have a teacher as brilliant as Ms Thompson, who always went out of her way to make our history lessons fun and interesting! From then onwards, I knew I wanted to study History at A-Level and potentially specialise in history at degree level.

Tell us about your A-Levels…?

I studied at Loreto Sixth Form College in central Manchester. I really enjoyed my time there – from my experience, the teachers were all excellent. I studied History, English Language and Literature combined, and Psychology. I found these subjects to be a nice mix as it provided a good balance of different attributes such as critical analysis, research, and formulating arguments.

What piece of advice would you give our students for choosing A-levels? 

Choose the subjects that you love- if you are gifted in these subjects, that’s a bonus! With A-Levels, the subjects you pick take up a lot more of your time, and if you do not enjoy the subject that you have picked it is harder to motivate yourself to study. Also, if you have a certain career in mind, it might be worth looking at which A-Levels best compliment the job you have in mind.

What piece of advice would you give our students for being successful at A-level? 

I think organisation is the key to being successful at A-Level. During my two years at college, I did cross country and athletics to a national standard, so I was training 6 times a week. At times I was very overwhelmed with the workload at college, particularly as a lot of the work tends to be set outside of the classroom to complete independently. What essentially got me through college was writing down a list of tasks at the start of the week that I needed to complete, and I would then have the satisfaction of ticking off each task once I had accomplished it. I had less of a guilty conscience when I went to my athletics training afterwards!

What else did you have to do at college, alongside your A-levels, to make sure your university application was successful? 

As I have mentioned previously, I did athletics and cross country to a competitive standard and I had competed at both regional and national level, which stood me apart from other candidates. However, Loreto College was great at offering volunteering initiatives that can be added to your UCAS application. For example, during my first year at Loreto, I got involved in the ‘Webster Project’, which involved tutoring Year 2 pupils from a local primary school in English and Literacy.

Why did you choose to study at Sheffield? 

When I went to visit Sheffield on a student open day and I just had a really positive gut feeling about the place. I could envisage myself studying there. It is such a great city as I had access to both the Peak District for my runs and the city centre for socialising, so I truly had the best of both worlds! The history department at Sheffield was great too and they offered a lot of interesting modules.

What was the best part of your degree? 

The best part of my degree was definitely meeting like-minded coursemates! There is a great social scene in Sheffield, and we had a lot of fun attending various events organised by the Sheffield History Society. In my final year of study, I was elected as the Operations Officer.

What was your favourite thing that you learnt about? 

My favourite module was definitely my dissertation, in which I researched the impact of the British imperialism, citizenship laws, and social media on the contemporary Rohingya Muslim genocide in Myanmar. I had never really looked into Southeast Asian history prior to my dissertation so it was difficult trying to gauge the context, however I was really proud of my final piece, and I was awarded with a First Class mark.

Where there any lows about going to University?

University consists of both highs and lows. My second and third year were particularly difficult as I missed out on a lot of teaching due to strikes and the pandemic restrictions. As most students can relate, being able to motivate yourself and perform to your best standard whilst classes are being held virtually is tricky, however, it has certainly made me more resilient as an individual.

What now? 

I am currently pursuing a role in the Marriott hotel in Worsley and I am hoping to develop within the hotel. There are lots of opportunities for progression. I would love to go travelling in the near future too once the pandemic is less of a barrier!

What are your top 3 pieces of advice for students looking to study history at university? 

  1. Don’t be overwhelmed by university procedures such as footnoting and other technical elements- you will pick it up really quickly!

2. Don’t be intimidated by other students in your seminar group- they received the same qualifications as you to get to university!

3. Don’t be tempted to pick a university just because one of your friends are going. I think going to a university where I didn’t know anyone was the best decision I made as it pushed myself out of my comfort zone and I met new people.

What are your top 3 pieces of ‘life advice’ for our students?

  1. By staying organised it will make your life a lot easier! (Even though it is often easier said than done…)

2. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and get involved with various societies, clubs, and volunteering schemes! It is a great opportunity to meet new friends and develop some great skills to add to your CV/UCAS form.

3. Enjoy your journey through education and always ensure that you specialise in the subjects that YOU are passionate about.