Spotlight on: Cat McWhinnie4 July 2014
“It’s been the happiest, funnest, craziest, most exciting three years of my life so far, and I’m over the moon to be graduating with a First!”
Meet Cat, English Literature extraordinare and participator in this year’s Jailbreak Challenge.
Why did you choose to study English Literature?
I’d always enjoyed reading and studying English at school, but I really fell in love with the subject when I did English Literature for A level. I learnt so much from it, not just about books and poems but about history, politics, cultural feminism and all sorts, and I just knew I wanted to study it further!
What did you most enjoy about your time in Cardiff?
I really loved my course, and Cardiff as a city, it’s such a fantastic place to be a student and I just felt at home the minute I arrived! But I think it’s the amazing friends I’ve met during my three years who have really made my university experience!
What was the biggest challenge that you faced?
Final year was definitely a tough one, and rather stressful at times, but all the hard work paid off in the end! My biggest challenge probably came during my second year, when I had to balance my university workload alongside family bereavement, but I managed it and I am still proud that I managed to catch up and get back on track!
Do you have any particularly fond memories?
Some of my favourite memories are from the three birthdays I’ve celebrated during my time at Cardiff. My birthday party in Freshers years really stands out. I thought it would be strange having a birthday away from my home and family, but by that point I’d settled in so well and had such a great group of friends around me that I just felt completely at home, and I just remember feeling so happy and lucky that everything had turned out so well!
It sounds like you’ve had a very social three years! Did you do anything else during your time in Cardiff?
The ‘joining a society’ thing passed me by a bit in Freshers year, so I was determined to make up for it in my Second and Third Year! I was in the Broadway Dance Society, I joined the Baking Society and I was also on the English Literature Society committee! I got such a boost from keeping up with my hobbies as well as meeting new people who liked the same things I did!
We’ve heard that you took part in the annual Jailbreak challenge. What did that involve?
The Jailbreak Challenge is organised by Cardiff RAG to raise money for Student Volunteering Cardiff, and it involves getting as far away from Cardiff and back in 54 hours, without spending any money. It was by far the craziest and most spontaneous thing I’ve ever done but I’d recommend participating in it to anyone! We managed to blag our way to Brussels without spending any money and with sponsorship and donations our team managed to raise nearly £800 for SVC! I was so proud of the amount we managed to raise but it was also amazingly fun and an incredible experience! I’m so glad I got a chance to do it during my time at uni.
Wow, how did you manage to fit everything in?
I always liked to go to the library and get my work done during the day, leaving my evenings free for going out and going to socials or classes. It was a good balance as by the evening I felt I’d earned a break so I didn’t ever feel guilty about doing whatever I wanted!
You’ve graduated with a top degree. What’s next?
At the moment I’m applying for Teaching Assistant and Cover Supervisor positions in secondary schools, so fingers crossed I’ll have something come September! I’m hoping that getting some long-term experience in an educational setting will help me with my main goal, which is to do a PGCE and train as an English teacher.
How are you feeling about graduation day?
I’m excited but a little bit nervous! You always know that you’re going to graduate (hopefully!) but its funny to think that it’ll actually be me in the cap and gown this year! I’m looking forward to having my parents there too and sharing the day with them – I think it might be quite an emotional one! My house-mate also studied English Literature, so after our graduation ceremony our families are going out together for a meal at Cosy Club to celebrate. Hopefully some of our other friends who are graduating that day will be able to drop by as well!
What advice would you give to students moving to Cardiff in September for their first year?
My main piece of advice would be to make the most of every minute of their time at Cardiff, as three years goes far too quickly! I’d tell them to seize every opportunity, try new things and get involved with societies or sports teams, but also do some volunteering or interning to help with CV-boosting along the way! But mainly, just to work hard, play hard and have an absolute ball!