Gathering student and alumni profiles for the UG prospectus

The front section of the prospectus needs to show off the things that make York brilliant. What better way to tell that tale and share the load of content creation than by asking our students and alumni to write stuff?

We have some cheerful new faces appearing in the 2021 prospectus and, alongside being a nice break from my desk, it has been an absolute pleasure to hear from students and alumni about their experiences.

Sourcing students

By investigating this way and that, I’ve been selecting students to represent different facets of university life. As much as possible, with a finite amount of space, we aim to show a diverse student population and a balance of genders. I’ve called upon the help of the sports centre managers, YUSU reps, OPPA student liaison, college tutors, student ambassadors and colleagues across departments to find students with engaging stories to tell.

When taking photographs for the profiles, I worked with our photographer, Alex, to feature a mixture of settings that reflect the range of fabulous stuff that students can expect from York, like the music lending library at Vanbrugh College:

Tom, from Band Soc., at the Vanbrugh music lending library

Hearing student stories

Alex and I also met a very inspiring Mental Health Nursing student called Spiwe, who was the first in her family to go to university. She was working as a Health Care Assistant when she took the decision to join us as a mature student, after being encouraged by a patient’s relatives. She’s really proud to be at York and hopes that her entry in the prospectus means that she has left her mark on the University – “Spiwe was here!”

We also met Jack, who wanted to talk about how the campus has become a place where he “feels at home and able to be (him)self”, which was lovely to hear and very conveniently phrased. We thought the little snug ‘Living Room’ area of the library worked well for this sentiment – especially since it was raining outside.

Jack in the Living Room, in the library

Showcasing fun activities

Meeting the folks from Mountaineering Club gave Alex, Joe and I the chance to visit The Red Goat climbing wall. We spent an hour dodging climbers, protecting the camera equipment and following Kevin around as he sprung from boulder to boulder. Alex managed to get some incredible shots, which I’m going to build suspense for by not including any here – you’ll have to wait for the 2021 prospectus! Here’s my meta photo of a photo instead:

Kevin at The Red Goat climbing wall

I’m not going to list every student but I can’t miss out Tom, from the University of York football team. He speaks passionately in his quote about the social life attached to sport at York – stating that he has made ‘friends for life’ – which is a really positive message for nervous applicants. Alex and I gleefully attended footy training at 8am on a beautiful January morning, wrapped up in scarf hat and gloves, to get a photograph of the team. We fitted in nicely.

8am at York Sport Village

Luckily the sun came up just in time for Alex to get some great shots of the team. The lads were only too happy to have their photos taken for the prospectus – particularly when they scored a decent goal – “ooooh, did you catch that one on camera?!”

Alumni gems

After a really productive meeting with Kyla Holt from OPPA, I managed to get a set of introductions to fascinating people like Willi Geiger, Head of Video Effects at YouTube and Lara Goodband, Curator at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum. Both had wonderful things to say about what studying at York has done for their career.

In a stroke of serendipity, the sports centre also put me in touch with Charlotte Ellis, who won gold for Team GB at the 2012 European Paratriathlon Championships. Charlotte was born partially sighted, and had been largely excluded from sports until she came to York, where she flourished and got the confidence to go professional. Now if that’s not an inspiring story, I don’t know what is.

Charlotte Ellis winning gold in the 2012 European Paratriathlon Championships

We’ve heard some brilliant stories and met a nice variety of characters, which should give prospective students a rounded view of life at York. Bring on the 2021 recruitment cycle!

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