In early August Somerville’s Access Officer spoke at Oxford’s Public Engagement Summer School (co-funded by AHRC and TORCH) about her work as Coordinator of the Oxford Early Career Academic Network, which aims to familiarise researchers with delivering content to non-specialised audiences.
We asked her to tell us about her work as Access Officer.
I am the Access and Outreach Officer at Somerville College. I hold a BA and MA in English, and a DPhil in Comparative Literature from Keble College, Oxford. I am passionate about education and learning; alongside my role as schools liaison for the college, I am tutor and lecturer in English and Modern Greek at the University of Oxford.
I have consistently worked for initiatives that promote equal opportunity in Higher Education. As a doctoral student I became involved with the Early Career Academic Outreach Network, where I delivered academic sessions (adjusted for different age groups) in English. I am now co-ordinator of the Network, which offers training sessions and an interactive platform that connects academics with Outreach opportunities in Oxford and further afield.
As the Access Officer for Somerville I lead the College’s schools’ programme, by organising all relevant visits, delivering presentations, and arranging activities. These aim to dispel the myths surrounding Oxbridge, to provide information on the application process and the academic courses on offer, and to enthuse potential applicants about a variety of academic subjects.
I work with 110 schools located at Buckinghamshire, Hounslow, and Kingston-Upon-Thames, the link regions assigned to Somerville as part of the University’s scheme to ensure that no area in the country is overlooked. The success of these endeavours largely rests on my enthusiastic and active student ambassador team, a voluntary group always keen to share experiences and provide inspiration to those visiting our college.
Over the last year, and in collaboration with other departments within college and beyond, I have seen a number of large-scale projects through: The Somerville Study Day (which brings in 120 pupils from different schools across our link area), the ‘Girls Into Science’ residential programme (which brings in 30 girls from schools from non-selective state schools), the Durham schools residential programme (which involves 30 pupils from non-selective state schools), the University Open Days (which bring in approximately 2,000 visitors over the course of the academic year).
As a representative from Somerville College I also participate in University-led events, as well as charitable activities organised by external agents with similar aspirations.
I love working with enthusiastic young people who, with an eye to their own future, are eager to learn about, and immerse themselves in, the college environment.