Natalie Abbott recently joined the Admissions team at Churchill in the role of Widening Participation Officer. We caught up with her to find out more!
What led you to apply for the role of Widening Participation Officer at Churchill?
I feel like several factors have contributed to my journey to the role of Widening Participation Officer at Churchill. After I left school, I worked in a number of customer-facing roles, and I spent a few years working in the Travel industry. I met so many interesting people during this time, and I realised that I get the most out of life when I’m helping people. After my job abroad came to an end and I returned to the UK, I enrolled on an Access to HE course in Teacher Education at a local FE college. I then went on to study for an undergraduate degree in Education at the University of Cambridge, and I have recently finished an MPhil in Education also at the University of Cambridge. The Widening Participation position is the first one I have held since graduating, but it is one I feel extremely well prepared for. A role like this is one I have been working towards ever since I took the jump in returning to education.
What drives your interest in this particular role?
The overarching drive I have for the Widening Participation Officer role comes from my desire to help people, but it goes deeper than that. As someone who attended Cambridge from a non-traditional background, I am so passionate that everyone within the wider University community benefits from a diverse student body. However, I am acutely aware of the challenges and barriers that students from non-traditional backgrounds might face. It is for this reason that I feel that one of the most important parts of my job is breaking stereotypes and busting myths around what a ‘Cambridge student’ looks like.
What are you most looking forward to?
I think what I’m most looking forward to about this role is getting on the road and visiting schools and colleges. Being able to look people in the eye and answering questions. Anything that makes me feel like I’m making a difference to even one person is the reason I do this job.
What do you like most about the College so far?
There is a lot to like about Churchill! The grounds and the facilities are lovely, the dining hall is excellent, and everyone – student or staff – is so happy to help. There are no stupid questions here, which is great for me because I seem to have so many of them!
Is there anything your colleagues and / or students need to know about you?
One thing people should know about me is that I am always happy to help – but I might be more helpful if I’ve had my morning coffee first!
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I’m a music lover (although unfortunately I cannot play myself!) so I spend most of my time listening to music or going to gigs. I am trying to build up an extensive music library, so if you come to my house and ask to hear a song you might find yourself confronted with vinyl, cassettes, CDs, or even an old school iPod or two!