Catherine Canning

Growing up in Glasgow, the opportunity to study at Oxford was not something I considered until a teacher introduced me to the idea when I was 17.

Growing up in Glasgow, the opportunity to study at Oxford was not something I considered until a teacher introduced me to the idea when I was 17. I arrived in Oxford in October 2013 to study Law. Near the end of my first year I signed up for an extra year of study, in Spanish Law at Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona (much to the surprise of my parents). This experience was just one of the examples of the so many fantastic opportunities I received through Teddy Hall. The fact this all came from an introduction to a university I would not have otherwise considered is one of my main drivers in outreach work. I love meeting young people and encouraging them to take chances and believe in themselves the same way I was.

I became a student ambassador in Trinity term of my first year having stepped in to help on a few school tours at the last minute. From there to Open Days, Pathways, and the Inaugural Teddy Hall Roadshow I had many opportunities to get involved in outreach events within college under the mentorship of the wonderful school liaison officers as well as being introduced to the UNIQ Summer School and being assigned to the Hall for my first residential. The combination of these experiences made it clear that I wanted to continue to work in access and outreach after my degree.

Working as Vice-President for Access and Academic Affairs at Oxford SU has been a privilege and a challenge (and an awesome job title). I would not have got there without the backing of the JCR and MCR of Teddy Hall, supporting my campaign and voting for me. I have represented the 23,000 students of Oxford University on academic and access issues at the highest levels of the university, lobbying for change and ensuring that student voices are heard. I have worked on various projects, especially on supporting student interview helpers and recognition of students who commit their time to access and outreach. It has been a lot of responsibility at a time of change in the University and Higher Education in general, which has given me insight on the policy and practicalities behind the work happening in Oxford and around the country when it comes to access to education.

This role and career path is very different to what I envisioned I would be doing when I applied to Oxford in 2012. I may not be the international lawyer I aspired to in my personal statement, but I have realised that the transferable skills I learnt in my time at the Hall have allowed me to broaden my horizons. The inspirational people around me in college pushed me to be better, motivated me through the tough times, celebrated my victories be they big or small, and were instrumental in helping me find a career that I enjoy.

Where next?

Law with Law Studies in Europe

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