Lucy is our Undergraduate Coordinator and Admissions Officer. She coordinates the School's BA Geography undergraduate degree programme and is also one of our Harassment Officers.
"I'm the Undergraduate Coordinator and Admissions Officer... my job is varied, including timetabling and online teaching support to organising fieldtrips, supporting admissions, and, probably the largest element, doing the administration for the Prelims and FHS exams. If you wanted to know about anything undergraduate or student related, then come to me! I'm also a SoGE Harassment Officer, so am happy to talk to anyone who feels that they might need support or advice.
"My career path has been varied but probably always largely to do with organisation and getting things to run smoothly. I used to work for an international aid agency and spent three years as an aid worker, two of which were spent living in rural South Sudan in a team of ten national aid workers. I supported projects that provided emergency health care and nutrition to the local community, provided safe water through drilling boreholes, and taught local farmers and families about farming in a sustainable way. We were frequently flooded out of our compound which used to delay flights and left us stranded, or displaced because of fighting. South Sudan at the time was transitioning to independence from Sudan, and I loved being able to live in a country that was going through such a significant part of its history. My work now is different but has similar elements - managing a variety of tasks, responding to unexpected challenges, and working with lots of different groups of people.
"Every year we start the exams process in about October, and it takes you right through to the start of July when results are released. For FHS there are many pieces of work and exams, all of which are double marked. There's a lot of numbers and marksheets and attention to detail, and as it gets to exams, dealing with markers with short deadlines and also questions from anxious students. There is always the odd bump in the road, but generally the process runs smoothly each year. Last year was challenging to adapt a largely paper based system to online right in the middle of exams, but it all went to plan. Getting the results for the students and making a stressful process run as well as it could is something that, come July, I always feel very proud of and do always enjoy.
"It's not particularly a surprise but I'm always amazed at the range of research the undergraduates do for their dissertations and options essays. I used to sort the hard copies out for distribution to markers and would get quite distracted reading some of them - from the geographies of gin festivals to the analysis of a particular extreme weather event, the choice of topics they choose to focus on is fascinating! You can really see how the concerns of the planet are looked at through the younger generation's eyes, and it's interesting to see how they learn about these concerns in ways that are relevant to their own lives.
"Outside of work, I qualified as a counsellor in October last year, so for the last two years I've travelled into Reading every Wednesday afternoon to volunteer at a counselling agency for young people. I see three clients a week - we switched to Zoom at the start of the pandemic and while it has taken a bit of getting used to, I'm glad that we've still been able to provide the service. I've also been a volunteer for Samaritans for seven years, going in weekly for four hour shifts, providing a listening ear for callers in distress or who don't feel they can talk to someone they know. I do a night shift once a month - sometimes I get the most interesting calls at 4am on a Saturday morning. There's been a rise in calls during the pandemic, as expected, and I'm glad we were able to continue to go into the branch on Iffley Road to continue listening.
"I also like to go running. I used to hate running in the morning without breakfast but I've since learnt that it's my favourite time to go, and it takes a lot to stop me once I've set my mind on it. My favourite run is from the department, past the Radcliffe Camera and through town, down the river to Donnington Bridge and back via Christ Church and the Uni Parks. In winter it usually requires a head torch and there's a short window of time in early spring when you can catch the sunrise. Now that the rowers are back you have to keep your wits about you to not run into them carrying a boat across the path, but otherwise it's just some pretty aggressive ducks and geese that cause the problems!
"I volunteered for the Oxford/Astrazeneca vaccine trial last year and was selected quite early on. I had my first jab in May last year, and my second in August, and found out recently that I'd had two full doses of the Covid vaccine. It was interesting to be a part of, and I feel hugely proud that Oxford developed something that had such a positive impact on the pandemic. It was slightly nerve wracking to be injected with an unknown substance, but other than a sore arm, having to take my temperature every day (see the picture!) and still doing a weekly exposure diary, it's just been another strange part of pandemic life.
"What do I like most about working in SoGE? It's a cliché, but the people. I'm lucky enough that the nature of my job brings me into contact with lots of different groups - students, academics, support staff, other departmental and college colleagues. The support staff are such an excellent group of people and I've really missed our social interactions this last year. Doing things online can sometimes make things quicker but certainly takes the enjoyment of human interaction away. There are also lots of opportunities - I've been able to accompany the students on fieldtrips to Dorset and Wytham Woods and have the opportunity to listen to lectures that reminded me of what I learned in my own Geography degree.