What are you up to now?
Have you got an exciting new job, working on a new project, want everyone to know about your own business, had something published or exhibited? Perhaps you are getting married or had a baby? Whatever your news, we would love to hear about it and share it with your fellow alumni.
Visit our share your experiences page to download the profile form if you would like to be included in the next edition or just email us.
Stee Leahy, class of 2016, Performing Arts
Stee graduated only this year, leaving his performing arts course with not only his degree but also a new passion and unexpected new skills.
Choosing UoC on a friend’s recommendation, Stee has “far too many” amusing stories and memories from his time as a student. “Working with my classmates and friends is always a good laugh, as I’m sure you can imagine”. His favourite part of the course was “making a show come together, I wanted to direct, manage, and ultimately enable the show. The UoC let me do that, it provided me with a base to let my imagination run wild!”
It was through modules on his course and the ‘brilliant’ tutors which led Stee to discover a passion and natural skill for costume. “I never expected to have an interest in it” he states. Now working as a self-employed costume maker, he takes commissions for cosplay and character cushions.
For the day job Stee is employed by M&M Theatrical Productions as an actor and he is currently staring as the Evil Sheriff of Nottingham in a six month UK tour of Robin Hood. “The most satisfying aspect of the job is when the kids boo me, boos are claps for a baddy!” explains Stee.
Catherine Huddleston, class of 2016, International Marketing Management
Now employed by Leeds-Lancaster-Morecambe Community Rail Partnership as their community rail partnership officer, Catherine is very proud that she has achieved “not only her degree but her dream job, despite personal and professional challenges of the past four years.”
Originally from Settle North Yorkshire, Catherine studied for her final year of her degree in international marketing management at our Lancaster campus. Her favourite experience of her student days was being part of the UoC Pub League Pool Team with whom she enjoyed nights out and still remains friends with.
“Working in transport is pretty much my calling in life” states Catherine. Her ambitions for the future are to stay with her employer for the next few years and then move to the “mobilisation team for the next incumbent train operating company at the change of franchise”.
Olivia Haines (nee Ashton), class of 2014, Primary Education
Describing her current employer as her daughter Isobel, and her job title as “full time mummy”, Olivia jokes that her career ambition these days is “a good night’s sleep”. Olivia graduated in 2014 with a first in her primary education degree. Since leaving university she has got married, completed her NQT year and had her first child.
Originally from Lancaster, Olivia chose the course as she has always wanted to teach and loves primary aged children. “My second year placement in year 4, was my favourite experience at university. I learnt so much and had such a great mentor, who has now become a friend.”
“I wouldn’t be where I am today without my degree” states Olivia, “I grew so much, and realised just how much I am capable of. I am incredibly proud of achieving my first”.
Alongside her role as a full time mum, Olivia writes a blog ‘A New Mum's Mission’ and is taking some time to decide what her future looks like. Whether this means the possibility of becoming a vicar in the Church of England, or a return to teaching, Olivia just wants to “be smiling and making others smile too”.
Michael Skelly, class of 2013, Dance Performance and Musical Theatre Performance
Michael chose UoC due to the great atmosphere of the Brampton Road campus. Looking back he struggles to choose his favourite experience of student days as there “are too many”. But something he does treasure from university life is the friendships he made “it is true when they say you will meet your friends for life at university”.
It wasn’t just friendship of course, that Michael came away with from 3 years at Brampton Road, as a graduate he felt “matured, disciplined and ready to take on the industry, I was prepared!”.
After graduation he completed his PGCE in the life-long learning sector and now Michael has worked for 2 years as the head of department in one of the largest colleges in the country, Leicester College. He is the Programme Leader in Preforming Arts (Dance).
His next challenge is a big move over the other side of the world to Australia where he hopes to develop his skills further and travel. Working with dance companies and building networks, “I want to become the artist I am and want to be; the world is my oyster”.
Ernest Wagner, class of 2012, Applied Psychology
Ernest is originally from Canada and relocated to Cumbria in 2005. With a keen interest in psychology for several years he applied to UoC Fusehill Street campus as it was convenient and he was pleased the course was accredited by BPS which meant he could become a clinical psychologist.
Ernest credits the study of psychology with changing his life “it opened up a new way of thinking and seeing the world for me” he states. Throughout the course he also realised his own academic potential which led him to begin to think about seriously pursuing his aspirations. “I realised that I had a platform through scientific research to have a voice, and make a meaningful contribution”.
Admitting that his ambition at first was simply to see if he could complete the course, he went on to do that and much more. After completing an MSc, and working as a research assistant at the University of Edinburgh, he was accepted onto the clinical psychology doctorate program there. Ernest is now working as a trainee clinical psychologist and will qualify in 2019. His ambition now is “to work as a clinical psychologist with a diversified career of clinical practice, private practice and research”.
Ernest’s advice for anyone who wishes to follow in his footsteps; “don’t be put off by the length of time it might take to get where you want. Enjoy the journey, try to follow your passions and interests, but also be flexible and try new things. Aim high and have long term goals in mind, but focus on being the best you can be at what you’re doing now”.
Rob Ewin, class of 2013 BSc Policing, Investigation and Criminology, class of 2014 MSC Applied Social Science
Rob, originally from Sandford near Appleby, Cumbria, is a double alumnus, having completed his BSc in policing at our Fusehill Street campus in 2013. He then went on to complete his MSc in applied social science a year later. Rob now is set to become a triple UoC alumnus when he completes his PhD in criminology in 2019.
Asked how he would describe the differences between studying as a postgraduate compared to an undergraduate student Rob says, “There are some very distinct differences between postgraduate and undergraduate study. At postgraduate level there is an expectation that you will develop your own learning strategies and seek to enhance your professional development whilst maintaining a commitment to your PhD. A PhD is a marathon and not a sprint, like all marathons there will be good miles and bad miles. Having a positive mind-set and a hard-working attitude will help in the PhD marathon as will grabbing every opportunity and running within it till you expunge its value”.
Rob works as a detective constable with the Cumbria Constabulary and is also a sessional lecturer here at the University of Cumbria. He combines his full time employment with studying for his PhD.
“Working a full-time shift pattern and studying part-time requires a degree of planning. Within that you must leave time to experience life and go on holidays and take breaks from both study and work”. Rob comments further, “Studying at PhD level is about more than remaining at university to improve your knowledge or job prospects. It’s about opening your mind to real world problems and considering how you would solve them and make change”.
Nigel Pearson, class of 1980, PGCE Primary Education
Nigel was recently celebrating after being recognised for his work in education with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual German Teacher Award Ceremony held in London at the German Embassy.
The ceremony paid tribute to the work of German teachers across the UK. Over 150 teachers and representatives from the education and language teaching sectors came to join the celebrations, now in their 13th year.
Nigel completed his PGCE at the Lancaster campus of the then St. Martin’s College in 1980. He is now the EAL co-ordinator and teaches Primary German at Leighton Academy.
His ambitions when starting out on the course were simply to “become a good teacher”, an ambition he has clearly achieved now with international recognition! His ambitions for the future are to make Leighton a national beacon for primary languages.
Nathan Pow, class of 2015, Primary Education
Nathan was snapped up as soon as he began applying for teaching jobs, in fact he was offered the very first job he applied and interviewed for. “I applied for two jobs during my search, I gained an interview for both but was offered the first job before I could attend the second interview” states Nathan.
Originally from County Durham, Nathan came to UoC because it was the perfect distance away from his parents. “Close enough to go to for support” he states, but far enough to “grow in independence by living away”. His original plan was to return to Durham after uni, but he met his girlfriend, a fellow teacher, on the course and they chose to stay in Cumbria together.
Nathan works as a year 3 class teacher at Brook Street Primary School, starting out in class 1, he moved over to class 3 from the new school year in September. The most satisfying aspect of his job he describes as “looking at how much progress and development your class have made over the year”. He is most proud of “getting a child who spoke no English to write her first English sentence”.
Nathan’s goal since starting out on his teaching career has always been to become a head teacher, “my NQT year has cemented this goal” says Nathan. “I have loved my NQT year, some elements were harder and some easier than being on placement, this is your class, you don’t always have someone watching you teach”.
If you wish to pursue a career in teaching Nathan advises to only do it if you have a real passion! “It is a very hard, demanding profession, but the positives far outweigh the negatives!”