Many of today’s graduates can claim to have been on at least a metaphorical journey during their time at University, but few will compare to that of Katie Brookes, whose passion for volunteering has taken her to China, Madagascar, Romania and Uganda during her time at the University of Worcester.
21 year-old Katie, who will today graduate with a degree in Physical Education and Sports Studies, developed a love of volunteering and community work during her time at school and sixth form, and continued to pursue this passion alongside her studies at Worcester.
Oldbury Park Primary School, Worcester Disability Football Club and Dancefest were among the local organisations to benefit from Katie’s work, and she believes this has benefited her, as well as them, greatly.
“I believe volunteering and becoming involved in extra-curricular activities help you to develop many skills,” she explains. “You improve things such as your organisation, communication, teamwork and problem solving, and it also gives you something substantial to put on your CV.
“I decided to volunteer for Dancefest as it represented one of my main interests – I would love to teach dance in the future – and some of my other experiences stemmed from placements I completed as part of my University modules.”
Katie has spent each of the last three summers volunteering abroad, with her most recent experience coming in the shape of a three-month stint in Uganda, where she taught in a primary school and helped to organise HIV/AIDS awareness talks in local communities.
The previous year saw her awarded a University of Worcester scholarship to teach in Madagascar, and she says she is indebted for the University for supporting her through her endeavours.
She says: “If it wasn’t for the University and its lecturers I wouldn’t have had the confidence to do any of the things that I have done. The Earn as you Learn through Sports initiative helped me find volunteer work locally and gain more experience in this area, and the lecturers were very helpful in terms of letting students know of any opportunities that they thought we may be interested in.
“I also had an extremely supportive personal tutor who encouraged me to be involved in extra-curricular opportunities to develop both my CV and personal skills.”
Katie secured her first job just two weeks after finishing her studies, and is currently working as a Grade 4 Teaching Assistant and Cover Supervisor, specialising in PE, at a local middle school.