By: Helen LamportClass of: 2018 College: St Chad's College Subject: History Location: Brussels
What are your fondest memories from your time at Durham?
I studied history at Durham University from 2015-2018. I was in St Chad’s college- the smallest college- which had the reputation of being the friendliest college. We had a great bar and lots of community spirit- the ends of terms were always filled with back to back formal dinners and parties. My best memories from Durham are the weeks we had after stressful exams in the Summer- where we had loads of time to relax with friends in the sunshine and enjoy the stunning scenery of Durham city.
My other highlight from my Durham experience was how much sport I was able to play! Being at the smallest college we were always desperate for extra players to make up the numbers at football, rowing, lacrosse and ultimate Frisbee. It was great to enjoy such a variety of sports and as Captain of the college hockey team and college squash team I was able to develop my teamwork and leadership skills- cajoling friends around the college so we would have enough players for a hockey match in the bitter winter snow, or enough squash players for a 9am squash match on St Chad’s Day after parading around the Bailey dressed from head to toe in green. In my final year I also joined the university squash team and really enjoyed taking on the challenge of playing sport at a more competitive level. Playing sport at university-level and taking part in some other university-wide societies, including as secretary of the History society and working every Friday at the Union Bar No.24 (which is incidentally the best stop on a bar crawl for shooters) also helped me expand my social circle outside of the college when the college bubble felt just a little bit too small.
What would be your top piece of advice for prospective students?
My main advice I would give to anyone going to Durham is throw yourself into everything, don’t take work too seriously and have fun! The college environment really does create a strong community spirit, and the university has a prestigious reputation, but you can still manage to squeeze a lot of social life in around your academic schedule. I also really benefitted from a gap year before university to gain a bit more confidence and sense of identity before I went.
How has Durham inspired you to get where you are today?
In my second year I joined the Consulting Society which helped me prepare for and secure an internship at M&G investments. I enjoyed the internship but found the industry wasn’t for me as I wanted to find a job which I would find more meaningful. Fortunately, after having the benefit of lots of practice at assessment centres, I successfully secured a place on the Civil Service Fast Stream in my final year.
I have now been in the Civil Service for five years, and after working on a variety of interesting policy areas and successfully graduating the fast stream I have been fortunate enough to secure a secondment to the UK Mission to the EU in Brussels where I work as a diplomat covering employment and social policy. It’s a busy job, with lots of day-to-day frustrations, but for the most part I love what I do. I think the thing that has got me here has definitely been my hard work ethic and finding and seizing any opportunities that come my way. St Chad’s motto is ‘Non Vestra, Sed Vos‘ (not what you have but who you are, not yours but you) and as much as I hate to admit it maybe this has partially rubbed off on me.
I cannot promise that you will have an amazing time at Durham, without any issues, but if you are lucky enough to come across great friends when you are there you will look after each other and have a life-bonding experience.