October 2015

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.

Email us if you would like to be included in the next edition.

Sarah Clarkson-Spoors

Class of 2012 - PGCE General Primary, and Class of 2006 Applied Social Science

Double alumnus Sarah loved her first time studying at Fusehill Street, back when it was St. Martin’s College so much so that she returned to do her PGCE here. “Going back to UoC was the perfect choice because I’d loved my first time there!”

After working as a TEFL teacher in Turkey Sarah just knew that teaching was for her so enrolled on the course at Fusehill to get the formal qualification. Now she is an elementary teacher at Bilkent Erzurum Laboratory School in Turkey. Sarah explains that she knew she wanted to teach internationally as she, and her husband, love travelling. Sarah has taught in Kent, Qatar and now Turkey “I wouldn’t say I’ve achieved my ambitions because there’s still a lot of word out there to discover!”

Sarah is the lead English teacher for her school and helped to develop the teaching strategy. She is very keen on phonics after completing a research project whilst a student. Her proudest teaching moment so far has been bringing phonics knowledge to Turkey and becoming Oxford University Press phonics pioneers due to being the first school in Turkey to use the scheme.

Sarah is starting her MA in Curriculum and Instruction soon and is looking to the future and possibly teaching in UAE or Singapore

David Barrett

Class of 1975 Charlotte Mason College, Religious Studies & Philosophy of Education

Originally from Cumbria, David chose Charlotte Mason College’s Ambleside campus in 1971 because of its convenient location and after four years of studying ‘living in Ambleside’ was still his favourite experience from student days.

"My intake year (1971) caused many dramatic changes at Charlotte Mason," David explains. "For just one example: in our first year students could theoretically be expelled if we were found in a hostel of the opposite sex before 10am; by my fourth year we had mixed hostels."

Now a freelance author and journalist, David has written over 20 books looking at unusual religious beliefs and practices. His latest book was published this summer, Tales from the Vatican Vaults, a fantasy anthology of 28 alternative history stories.

After college David worked as a teacher for four years before choosing “other careers I was more suited to” but has remained interested in education and scholarly concepts in his writing, and through lecture work. David is most proud of being awarded his PhD in Sociology of Religion in 2009 from London School of Economics.

You can find David’s fascinating books here


Julia Ivanszky

Class of 2015 – Graphic Design

Originally from Hungary, Julia arrived at University of Cumbria through Clearing to study graphic design, and after graduating this year she has stayed on working for the Students’ Union.

Describing her favourite thing about university, Julia states “I feel I gained confidence, I grew up and improved my English language skills, I have also made some very special friends and hopefully we will keep in touch.”

Julia is now the graphic designer for the University of Cumbria Students’ Union, “It’s a great experience” she says. “I am proud of myself for making it so far especially with my family being abroad and the language barrier.”

Julia has many ambitions for the future, and likes to keep an open mind about where this will take her, “as long as I enjoy my job I will not be disappointed.” Julia is also member of the Border City Rollers, Carlisle’s very own roller derby team.

Jodie Sullivan

Class of 2013 Applied Psychology

Originally from Carlisle, Jodie decided to stay at home to study for her degree in psychology as the subject has always interested her.  The smaller class sizes at UoC and personal quality tuition time at Fusehill Street really appealed to her when applying for the course.

“What I liked most about the course was the fact that your lecturers care about you and your achievements” Jodie says, “and completing my dissertation gave me the best feeling of accomplishment.”

Jodie is now not only studying for her MSc in Applied Psychology here, but is also working as one of the university’s widening participation access graduate interns.  “I am so proud that I have achieved first-class grades for the first year of my MSc; I gained a 2:1 at undergraduate level so I’m happy to have improved.”

Jodie’s ultimate career ambition is to work for Universal Park and Resorts to conduct research which would help design theme park rides and video games.  She would also like to go on to her doctorate after completing her MSc.

Jodie’s advice to current and prospective students: “Get involved in extra-curricular activities.  So many people have degrees now-a-days and it can be good to have something in your job interview that doesn’t just revolve around your qualifications.” Jodie is certainly standing by her statement as she has just joined Carlisle’s first ever roller derby team, the Border City Rollers.

Ben Swift

Class of 2014, Event Management

Ben was invited back into university recently to speak to the current event management students. It is obvious why Ben was asked; he is a confident, polite and articulate young man, smart in his suit and tie with branded Hallmark Hotel pin badge, and came across very professional.

Ben admits himself it has not always been that way; he has had a bit of a journey getting to where he is today.

Ben recalled how he came to UoC through Clearing, telephoning the Clearing hotline 10 days before the course was due to start. Ben had no idea what he really wanted to do, but had a love for music and live events and was in a band with his friends back home in Blackpool. So that left a week or so to get organised with student accommodation and finance; Ben admits it did not go too well. After a difficult start in a shared house, a small course and lack of money, he found himself questioning whether he had made the right decision. He persevered and found that in his second year, after to moving to Denton Holme and making new friends, he came to really enjoy Carlisle and knuckled down and took his studies more seriously. Ben eventually came out with a high 2.1 and worked really hard to get there.

Ben’s ideal job would be in the music industry “it’s incredibly hard to get into, it is all about the people you know” he admits. So after being frustrated with getting nowhere with events roles in Blackpool and needing valuable experience, Ben decided to put on his own events, vintage fairs in the Winter Gardens, which were really successful. Now, with the experience under his belt in organising and setting up his own events from scratch, he applied for a position as sales, meetings and conference co-ordinator at Hallmark Hotel back in Carlisle and was thrilled to get it! Ben says “I’m really enjoying it so far, there is so much to learn in hospitality, it can involve music too and there are plenty of opportunities to travel and move around.  I also have really nice colleagues who help me out.”

Stephanie Whitehead

Class of 2009, Media Production

Stephanie recently popped back to campus on Brampton Road to speak to our media students. Joanne Lusher, alumni officer, was lucky enough to grab a quick chat with her…

Originally from London, Stephanie chose Cumbria to study as she wanted to experience different parts of the country before returning to London for work. “I loved my course, we were basically just given cameras and the freedom to go off and make stuff.”

Now a freelance third assistant director, Stephanie has worked recently on movies such as Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens and the latest James Bond Spectre. Bond was eight month’s work and included work in five different countries with an enormous crew of 700-800 people!

Her role on Star Wars was key floor runner, which means she was in charge of the floor team, looking after the actors, making sure they had been through make-up etc and they were ready for scenes. “It is all about logistics and organisation,” Stephanie explains.

Stephanie has been really lucky in that she has worked consistently on movies and in TV. “It is all about reputation. If you work hard you will keep on working. All my work comes from word of mouth, I don’t interview for any roles, so each production just knocks on to the next one.”

It wasn’t always that easy though. Straight after uni, Stephanie returned to London and worked as a waitress whilst also trying to get unpaid work experience. It is important to get work experience but she stresses, “you have got to get to a point of stopping unpaid work. Use it to your advantage to get the experience you need and learn, don’t let yourself be used.”   

I had to ask her what it is like working with famous actors and if she ever gets ‘star struck’, but as a true professional she explains that it gets mundane and you get over it quickly! “Generally everyone is really lovely, they are just normal people”.  However she does mention that if she were to meet her favourite stars she might get a bit star struck!

So what is next? Stephanie will start working on Wonder Woman next month and her ultimate ambition is to become first assistant director.

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