What year did you begin and leave Langley?
I was at Langley from start to finish… from the Prep School on Yarmouth Road in 1999 with Mrs Pond, all the way through to the Sixth Form at Loddon until 2013. Magnificent Mancroft all the way!
Which A Levels did you gain?
This was tough as there were so many options. History had to be my first choice as not only do I love the subject, the History department at Langley was the best – shout out to Mr Kempton and Mr Felton. I must not forget Dr Dain and our memorable London trip. How many steps are there at Covent Garden Tube Station? It is a tough A Level. But don’t let this stop you. I have Dyslexia, and struggled with some of the essay writing. However, Mr Kempton believed in me and we got through it! I have always been creative, therefore I picked two Art subjects – Art 3D and Photography. I wanted to keep my options open, so my fourth subject was a BTEC in Public Services with Major Cooper. This option came about from being in the CCF and doing the subject as a diploma. Great fun and good for learning new skills and building confidence.
During your time at Langley, did you know what career you wanted to pursue?
I thought I did – in Year 9 I wanted to go into the RAF and be an engineer. Unfortunately my Maths skills let me down, so I had to re-think. Going through my GCSEs and A Levels I was still unsure. Deep down I wanted to be a Historian and study History at university. This was not meant to be. In my final year of school I started to really engage with Photography and thought this was the right path for me.
Which co-curricular activities were you involved in and have they been useful, for example helping with transferable skills?
I was not really sporty at school, but I did enjoy the kayaking club and polo. However, for me the main activity was being a part of the CCF. The list is endless with respect to transferable skills – team work, leadership, listening skills and confidence building.
When I had my interviews for university they were not interested in asking me about my A Level subjects. They were more interested in my time with the CCF. Since leaving university and filling in many job applications it became clear that I could continue to use my experiences with the CCF. Some of the skills, especially confidence building, came in really handy during my gap year. I did things that I never thought I was able to do – for example Game Ranger internship in South Africa.
What did you study at university?
I visited three universities and it was a difficult choice to make as they all had pros and cons. In the end I went for the one that offered the most interesting course – University for the Creative Arts, Farnham. I must have done something right as I got a 1st Class Honours degree in Photography. However, after my first term I realised I did not want to be a photographer, but instead study the Social, Historical and Political side of Photography. This continued through my degree and enabled me to go on and study for an MA in Curation at Norwich University of the Arts.
How did you career begin?
I thought my MA and my volunteer work at galleries and The National Trust would open the door into the industry I wanted to go into – Curation. How wrong I was. The first job I applied for was at the SouthBank Centre, London as Assistant Curator. They had more than 500 applicants. I did not stand a chance. I had not anticipated how difficult it would be to get a job in the industry. I then took a job with Aviva. After 12 months I finally got a break through as I got an 18 month paid intern with Norwich Museum Services but then Covid-19 hit us. However, my internship has been amazing. I work with the SHARE Museum East Team, whose role is helping museums with funding and developing programmes. I am now currently applying for full time jobs as my intern finishes in October.
So far, what have been your post-school highlights?
In my final year at Langley we had a talk from a company called Frontier, who specialise in gap year travels. I did not feel ready for a gap year straight after Upper Sixth and decided to wait until after my bachelor degree. It was a good decision as I have spoken with several people who did their gap year straight after A Levels and regretted it. My gap year was incredible. I learnt so much about myself and what I am capable of. Through Frontier I travelled to India and South Africa by myself – a few tears at the airport, excitement but also apprehension. I volunteered at a Slum School and lanced boils on cows at an animal rescue centre (I never want to do that again). I lived with an Indian family and celebrated Diwali with them. I then did a Ski Season in the French/Italian Alps and ran a chalet for 21 guest – this was tough, but my skiing is now amazing and I have made some fabulous friends for life. The last phase of my gap year was three months on a game reserve in South Africa. Within a couple of weeks I was driving an open top jeep around the reserve. One highlight of this trip was cage diving with Great White Sharks.
Another highlight for me was curating an exhibition as part of my MA studies – “Pittacium” – “Titulus” – “Nota”. An exhibition examining the complex nature of the face and its relationship with subjective interpretations, the personal politics of self-identity and the social construction of ‘what is normal’ and acceptable? Curating this exhibition made all the hard work of my MA worth it!
On reflection, did your time at Langley help your attitude towards career choices and progression?
I had a lot of support from some of my teachers and they helped me believe in myself. I think you have to be honest with yourself, accept your limitations and build on your strengths. Langley helped me do this. If you really want something you have to go out there and grab it! This takes confidence as you will get knock backs. My time at Langley gave me that confidence. Maths has always been my nemesis. However, Mrs Coulson, a member of the learning support team suck by me and together we got the result I was after – GCSE Maths Grade C.
What advice you would give to students considering Langley, their A Levels or careers?
Listen to advice. But, at the end of the day, it has to be your choice. Weigh up your options carefully. If you make a mistake, don’t worry, its all part of learning and growing up. It’s a big world out there with lots of challenges, but also opportunities. Things might not go your way and you might have to re-think what you want to do. The best advise I can give is stay positive, keep smiling and don’t give up. I know what it feels like to have set backs and this can sometimes be disheartening. On my first day at Langley Senior the then-Headmaster, Mr Malcolm, gave a very inspiring speech and it is something I have never forgotten. “Look to the person on your left and always remember there will be at least 10 things you can do which they can’t.”
Your fondest memory of Langley?
Being at Langley throughout my childhood and early adulthood, I have so many fond memories, so it is hard to just pick one, so I am going to give you two. During Prep school Year 5 the Easter concert was dedicated to the author Roald Dahl. My Year did James and the Giant Peach and I was given the role of Aunt Spiker. During the performance I fell off the stage as I was wearing high heels. Everyone in the audience burst out laughing as they thought it was part of the show. However, as they say “the show must go on,” so I had to carry on and go with it. It was so funny I had to repeat it for the evening performance.
My seconded fondest memory was going on CCF camps. I was given the nickname Doris by a Marine and this has stuck; Major Coopers phrases – pain is pleasure and skin is waterproof – I still use these phrases today (thank you Major Cooper). My Langley friends and I still laugh and joke about the great times we had on these camps.
Enjoy your time at Langley, create wonderful memories and make amazing lifelong friends!