“The Penryn Campus has been many things to me over the years…”

Rachel Haddy

Rachel Haddy is an Employability and Placements Adviser in Student Employability and Academic Success, in Penryn. In her role, Rachel develops and leads employability workshops, lectures and events for students, as well as delivering one-to-one careers advice. Rachel joined the University in 2021 as a Widening Participation Coordinator, but her connections to the institution and campus go deeper still, as she is an alumna of the English degree, graduating in 2017.

In our sixth Penryn Perspective, Rachel explains how the campus has come to mean so many different things in her life.

“I grew up in Lanner, about 20 minutes from the Penryn Campus. Half of my family have been in Cornwall for generations, with ancestors immersed in local industries. One relative was a Bal Maiden, labouring at the surface of mines, an extremely challenging and physical job.

“Unlike my ancestors, I had the privilege of deciding what my working life would look like and had access to an education. On deciding I wanted to pursue a BA in English I was determined not to study at Penryn. My older sister was undertaking a BSc in Conservation Biology and Ecology here and I was, like most teenagers, gasping for individuality which would set me apart from my sibling. However, I was persuaded to visit the campus and given the chance to speak to Professor Nick Groom about the BA English course.

“I had made enquiries to other HE providers about speaking with academics, but they had never gone anywhere. Yet here was a senior member of the University community carving time out of an undoubtably busy day to speak to an awkward 17-year-old and her mum. He answered every question we had with genuine enthusiasm, and I left the meeting with a strong conviction that studying English at degree level was the right path for me. Visiting the campus, I was not only struck by the welcoming and helpful attitude of everyone we encountered, but also by its beauty, and I envisaged reading my set texts in the splendour of the Italian Garden. I was sold.

“One of my most valuable university experiences was working as a Student Ambassador. It was my first ever job and it saw me travel across the UK to represent the University at UCAS conventions, compère awards ceremonies for local school students and deliver more campus tours than I can count! My confidence and professionalism grew exponentially in that role, and I often highlight the opportunity to our current students.

“On graduating in 2017, I set off to Switzerland to work at an international boarding school in Lausanne before moving to Seville to teach English. It was important to me that I left Cornwall for a time and gained an international perspective and I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to travel. Soon enough though, the draw of family, friends and Gwithian Beach on a summer evening saw me boarding a flight back to the UK. My experiences overseas had proved to me that I didn’t want to be a schoolteacher and I found myself exploring opportunities in heritage. After volunteering at the Museum of Cornish Life in Helston, I was taken on as Trainee Curator and later moved to The National Trust as a Visitor Experience Officer. Both these roles gave me so many transferrable skills, introduced me to some of the most interesting people I have met, and allowed me to indulge my curiosity about Cornish Heritage

“The job which drew me back to the Penryn Campus was ‘Widening Participation Coordinator.’ I come from a widening participation background myself and received the Access to Exeter Bursary as a student. Dismantling barriers to higher education will always be important to me and it was satisfying to take on a role with fair access at its heart. I thought I might find it strange to return to the campus, but other than some new buildings which had emerged since my graduation, it was just like I remembered. I quickly reintegrated and was reminded of what had led me to apply to Penryn as an undergraduate eight years earlier; the University’s dynamic, welcoming and supportive community.

“I currently work as an Employability and Placements Adviser and my role involves delivering careers advice appointments alongside a portfolio of skills and advice sessions ranging from Creating a Successful CV to Leadership Skills. I genuinely adore my job (and I’m not just saying that because my Line Manager will doubtlessly read this article!) Every day is different and it’s a privilege to work with engaged and motivated students who are embarking on exciting careers and utilising their education to make meaningful change in the world. Within my relatively short career, I’ve switched roles and changed direction multiple times, but finally feel like I’ve found where I’m meant to be. With the support of SEAS, I’m also pursuing a degree apprenticeship in careers development and appreciate working in an environment where professional development is facilitated and valued.

“The Penryn Campus has been many things to me over the years. It’s the place where I gained my degree, throwing my mortar board in the air outside Tremough House. It’s the place where I made some incredible friends who I can’t imagine not having in my life. Finally, it’s the place where I get to work every day with exceptional colleagues whose dedication is endlessly inspiring. For that, I will always be grateful.”