So this is it…after a year and a half I am saying goodbye to Partners in Learning. I’m feeling a mix of emotions, relief that my perfectionist mind can have a break over the summer, sadness as I am leaving an office with the kindest colleagues I have ever had the experience of working with, excitement for my future and whatever the heck it holds for me from here, and a sense of nostalgia, reminiscing on happy memories from my time with PiL.
Lingering on this sense of nostalgia, I’d like to share with you a couple of my fondest memories:
Winning ‘Organisation of the Year’ in May 2016 at the Student Opportunities Awards with my ‘Student Guide to Learning and Teaching Strategy’ team.
Having worked with the team for 4 months, there had been ups and downs throughout. The celebration of our hard work brought us together once more. I felt a sense of pride and belonging sitting amongst my team, being praised for the amazing work we had done.
Presenting the Keynote at the Learning & Teaching Conference June 2016.
Our presentation spoke about the logistics of creating the ‘guide’ and featured several case studies; it was when my team were recounting these case studies that I truly realised the amazing people I had had the honour to work alongside. People who had faced barriers to their education but persevered with ambition. These amazing women I had worked with for months were inspiring, they became role models.
During my summer internship, myself and Phil wanted to do something fun in the office to brighten the mid-week slump -so we started ‘Pun Thursday’ on our Instagram and Twitter. It started off well, and we had some great puns, but it phased out as we weren’t particularly consistent with it…but it was fun on the occasions that we remembered it!!
Aside from the puns, days in the office always feature a little bit of fun. My colleagues in Student Opportunities welcomed me to the wider team with open arms, making me feel part of their staff community. The friendly atmosphere, the light-hearted banter, the interest in each others’ lives, has really helped me to blossom – a little bit like Kellie’s plant which we stuck a picture of Groot on.
The “What does student engagement mean to you?” and “Student Guide to Learning and Teaching” videos
These were some of the many projects I embarked on during my internship; and possibly the most fun. The “What does student engagement mean to you?” video saw me enlisting the help of my friend and flatmate Monica to film short interviews with a range of students and staff members. I think this experience really consolidated my feelings of partnership amongst staff – I was telling them where to sit, what to say, it was a strange power flip. I liked being able to work alongside my friend because it gave me an opportunity to see her doing what she loves, videography.
The ‘Student Guide to Learning and Teaching’ animated video was a tricky feat due to issues with the free online software I had stumbled upon. Once the actual video was completed, I needed a voiceover. Enlisting the help of my friend and flatmate, Monica, once more – she acted as ‘sound editor’, using her access to the university’s recording studios and her abilities to seemingly stitch the sound to the visual. I also enlisted the help of someone very close to me, my boyfriend!! Having had a history of voiceover work, it seemed obvious to utilise his talents for my task. The three of us had a lot of fun in the recording studio, and ended up with something looking and sounding really professional.
Being published in the first ever RAISE ‘Student Engagement in Higher Education Journal’ in Sept 2016
Having only just turned 19, it was such an amazing accomplishment to have my work published in a real peer-reviewed journal, the kind I’d use in my assignments. The prospect still seems totally bizarre, and was only made possible by my involvement with Partners in Learning.
RAISE 2016 was the first ever external conference I attended. It was rally inspiring to see the passion all these people from all these different institutions had for student engagement. It was also good to meet and talk with Lucy Hoople, an alumni student who had been involved with the ‘Culturosity’ project. Although nerve-wracking, it was a great experience to showcase our work and the response we received was encouraging.
Having been inspired by REACT on a consultancy day the year before, we presented our work on the Student Mapping Tool at the REACT Conference (at University of Winchester) which I had been working tirelessly on in the months prior. We were showered with praises and inspired many to begin mapping their activities in a similar way. This external recognition is something which spurs me on and reminds me that the work we are doing is somewhat significant in the sector.
Student Fellow Conference 2017
How amazing to have been invited to present the keynote, alongside Phil, at the Student Fellows Scheme Conference at the University of Winchester. It was an honour to take centre stage and divulge our secrets to authentic partnership. At the end of the conference we were awarded with a bottle of bubbly each…which to my dismay, fell out of the gift bag and smashed on our way to the station. We may have smashed the presentation, but I wasn’t expecting to smash the bloomin’ bottle too!!
I’ve probably forgot many great and memorable things in my hazy reminiscent state; but ultimately my work with Partners in Learning has been a real journey. Along the way I was inspired by all my colleagues on the Learning and Teaching Strategy project, thank you for being the amazing people you are and keep doing what you’re doing, Dan, Savannah, Ana, Claire, Maria, Sophie and Gabbie. Thank you to all my friends who have helped me along the way with my annoying facebook surveys and odd questions about student engagement. Thank you to all the student opportunities staff and beyond who have been welcoming and friendly throughout my time here, Sue, Rayya, Nashira, Lucy, Caroline, Nicky, Kellie, and Sarah. And most of all thank you to Phil Mooney; thank you for (eventually) hiring me on the Learning and Teaching project and making all of this possible. I leave Partners in Learning with an overwhelming sense of self-belief that I had never experienced before, I believe I am capable of great things, and that’s all thanks to you Phil.
I’m sad to leave, but grateful for the experience and the opportunities that have presented themselves due to my involvement. I hope that many others in the future will be able to have the opportunities that I had and that Partners in Learning continues to grow and thrive. Partners in Learning will always have a special space in my heart.