June 2015

Have you got a 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.

Rebecca Lewis (nee Matthews)

Class of 2010, Primary Education with QTS

Rebecca, an army child, was the first in her family to attend University, and she fell in love with UoC on her very first visit. Clearly it was fate because not only did she come out of her course with a degree and qualified teacher status but also loved up with her now husband!

Rebecca loved the tight-knit community of her course and was lucky enough to enjoy teaching placements in both London and Sweden. Securing her first teaching job with Service Children’s Education before even embarking on her final placement, Rebecca has now worked for five years in a school in Germany. She is most proud of implementing improvements to the school that enabled them to get an ‘outstanding’ grading in a recent OFSTED inspection.

‘When I first started university, I never believed that I would end up leaving with not only a degree, but amazing friends and a husband! I am grateful to all at the University for giving me such a good start to my teaching career.’

Nicole McGregor

Class of 2014, Adventure & Media

Originally from Newcastle, Nicole chose the University of Cumbria, as it was ‘the right part of the country’ to indulge in her passion of rock climbing. ‘Cumbria has so much rock climbing, I can never get bored’. Her Adventure Media course provided just the right mix of creativity and adventure for the daredevil graduate.

Summing up her University experience, Nicole states, ‘it was fun, very odd and probably unlike any other university experience in the country.’  Her advice to current and prospective students: ‘Try hard, make friends and have fun, it will happen if you want it to.’

Now, Nicole works as part time Supervisor and Instructor at Eden Rock, an indoor bouldering wall climbing centre in Carlisle.  The rest of her time is spent making adventure films and climbing of course! Latest film, ‘Climb like a girl’ is her greatest achievement so far, which was entered into the Women in Mountain Adventure Film Competition and explores the issues surrounding women in the male dominated sport of rock climbing. Featuring fantastic scenery and plenty of adventure action footage, you can see the film here…

Nicole’s future ambitions are to continue to make films, coach climbing and to make enough money to go on big climbing trips… ‘I could happily do that until I’m too old’.


Jimm O’Dell

Class of 2007, HND Graphic Design

As an alumnus of our Brampton Road campus, then the Cumbria Institute of the Arts, Jimm set off on his academic journey with the general idea that he wanted to do something ‘creative and thought provoking in some way’, and ‘I wanted to give myself some employable skills’.

Studying at Cumbria Institute of the Arts had a profound effect on his life, particularly enjoying the social aspects of his course. ‘It gave me a lot to be grateful for, mind-set being one of them, I felt my studies helped me grow professionally and personally, plus I had a great time there!’

The focus of the course on commercial work and live briefs proved extra useful as Jimm entered the job market. He now works for Satzuma in London as a developer and designer, where he has been for five years as well as working on freelance creative projects. ‘My work is varied, from designing themes for books, website design and marketing illustration; the company nurtures creative thinking and I feel I have grown there’.

Summing up Jimm adds ‘a sincere thank you to the University for giving me the opportunities in life, think I would have struggled without your help’.

Graham McKnight

Class of 2008, Technical Theatre & Drama

Graham travels the word with the Mamma Mia theatre show international tour as their Deputy Master Carpenter and Automation, a dream job indeed for any aspiring technical theatre professional!

It all started after choosing the University for its ‘rural location’ and the lecturers. Originally from Warrington, and the first in his family to go to university, Graham had an interest in the practise and wanted to expand his knowledge and experience in the profession.

It was through the course and working in the local theatres that Graham found his true vocation and interest.

‘I would not be where I am today without my degree, it has allowed me to gain managerial position early in my career, and the networking skills required to move into different productions.’

Graham has had some exciting experiences throughout his career, stating his proudest achievement as ‘working as Master Carpenter for a leg of the National Theatre’s UK and South Africa tour of the musical theatre production of War Horse.’

Now Graham’s long term goals are to minimise the travel and to gain positions on specific productions and general management for a single production company.  Graham is also keen to share his knowledge and experiences to inspire current and future theatre students.

Nicola Etherington

Class of 2013, Contemporary Applied Arts

After working as an Office Co-ordinator, Nicola decided a change of direction was in order and quit her job to attend University.  Originally from a small village near Portsmouth, she enrolled onto the Access to Art course initially because she felt that the University offered ‘great facilities and support’.

‘The Access to Art course was fantastic, run by a very inspirational and supportive tutor, I wanted to carry on my creative path and thought the Applied Arts degree was the best course for me to further develop my skills’.

Nicola credits her degree with ‘changing my life dramatically’.  It is during her course that she discovered her love for vintage fashion and up-cycling.  Now self-employed, Nicola runs ‘Twisted Magpie’ a vintage pop-up shop.  ‘I use my skills from my degree to re-work vintage clothing to give them a new lease of life.’ Nicole also recently curated an art exhibition, ‘Vintage Meets Craft’ at Derek Eland’s Gallery Number Three, bringing together local artists who have links to the University to exhibit their work.

Stating her aims for the future: ‘I want to continue to develop my business using the skills I learnt at University and I aim to also work on some of my own art.  If I had the chance to come back to University again I would - it was the best thing I ever did!’

Check out Nicola's Twisted Magpie vintage fashion business on Facebook here... www.facebook.com/twistedmagpie

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