Find your own path, believe in yourself and define your own rules for success.
Sophie Meyer, Alumnus
- Junior Doctor - Amy Edwards
- Software Engineer - Rebecca Merriman
- Interior Designer - Mackenzie Morrison
- Automated Vehicles - Siobhan Merriman
- Archaeologist - Sophie Meyer
- Junior Materials Developer - Jade Gilley
Amy Edwards worked as a Junior Doctor at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in the Intensive Care Unit when the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic struck last year.
I was a student at St. Nicholas’ from 2000 to 2010 and have many fond memories of that time. I particularly enjoyed my maths and science lessons, which definitely paved the way for things to come, but I also loved my musical activities.
Having started violin lessons when I joined the school, I was encouraged to audition for junior conservatoires – something I would never have been brave enough to do without the support of my music teachers. I was offered a place at Trinity College of Music Junior Department and from then on spent my Saturdays making music in London. I still look back on this as one of the best decisions I’ve made.
After leaving St. Nicholas’ I joined The Sixth Form College Farnborough, where I studied Maths, Biology, Chemistry and Music at A-Level. By this point I was fairly sure that I wanted to follow my parents into healthcare and, after a few months of feeling torn between university and music college, I applied to medical school. My time at the sixth form was fantastic and bridged the gap between school and Higher Education really well.
I studied Medicine at King’s College London between 2012-2018, with a year spent at Imperial College London to complete an intercalated BSc in Neuroscience. Although these years were very busy, I continued musical performance alongside my studies, playing with groups such as the London Mahler Orchestra, University of London Symphony Orchestra and Young Musicians’ Symphony Orchestra.
Since graduating, I have been working as a junior doctor. I was on rotation at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital when the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic struck and was quickly “up-skilled” before being redeployed to Intensive Care. All of our patients had severe Covid requiring mechanical ventilation and often other organ support, which meant working long shifts in full PPE. This was a really demanding time, but I learned a huge amount through it and the experience has certainly made me a better clinician. It has also confirmed beyond any doubt that I want to train as a hospital physician! I am now spending a year as a Clinical Teaching Fellow (responsible for medical student education), so my challenge at the moment is how to coordinate the students’ teaching while we are battling a difficult second wave in the East End.
I love working as a doctor and have no doubt that my years at St. Nicholas’ were formative in setting me on that path. Even with a bit of insight into healthcare careers through family, the application process for medical school was tricky and it’s a daunting prospect. I’d be more than happy to talk to any of the girls about careers in science and healthcare, or indeed about music – I’m still playing!
I love working as a doctor and have no doubt that my years at St. Nicholas’ were formative in setting me on that path. I’d be more than happy to talk to any of the girls about careers in science and healthcare, or indeed about music – I’m still playing!
Rebecca Merriman is a Software Engineer and plays cricket for the women's league.
Hello, my name is Rebecca and I am Software Engineer at BAE Systems. I went to St Nicholas’ School from 2006 to 2013 and my favourite subjects at school were ICT, PE and Physics. I really enjoyed being introduced to the non-typical subjects including wood tech, food tech and textiles.
I went to Farnborough Sixth Form College in 2013 and I studied A-level Computing, Maths and Law and AS Electronics. Before I went to college, I was unsure what subjects to study. I was always fascinated with computers from an early stage and after speaking with Mrs Johnson (my ICT teacher at the time) she suggested to study Computing and I have not looked back since.
From 2015, I studied BSc Computer Science (Information Security) followed by MSc Information Security at Royal Holloway University. After graduating with an MSc in 2019 I joined BAE Systems as a Software Engineer. During my time at BAE I have been working on high-profile and important projects as a software engineer and tester.
So to finish, I want to dispel some of the typical stereotypes that you hear about computer scientists and engineers. This is something I am really passionate about because I was exposed to these stereotypes when I was younger; something that could have put me off a career in software engineering. This is the reason why I am spending most of my spotlight on this subject. Typical stereotypes of Engineers and Computer Scientists are that they are men, have limited interests, play computer games, lack interpersonal skills and their work is boring and dull. However, I’m proof that these stereotypes aren’t always true!
For example, I love playing sport- throughout my life I have participated in many sports from ballet and gymnastics in my younger days, to golf, tennis and swimming in my school days and now my main sport is cricket. I have been playing cricket since secondary school- in the girl’s league when I was younger and now in the women’s league for my local cricket club.
Secondly, inspirational women have been making leaps in engineering for hundreds of years. Ada Lovelace became the first computer programmer back in the 19th Century, and since then we’ve had the likes of, Dr. Ellen Ochoa, the first Hispanic female astronaut to reach space; Marissa Mayer, the first female engineer to join Google; and Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon who was the youngest girl to pass A-level computing and at age 20 graduated with an MSc in Mathematics and Computer Science. She went on to co-found Stemettes, a social initiative dedicated to inspiring and promoting the next generation of young women in STEM.
Finally, software engineering is an exciting and important job. Engineers get to work on high-profile and heavily invested projects using leading edge technology that will have a big impact on society both now and in the future. These include driverless cars, ventilators that are being built for the NHS and cyber products being used to protect children from abuse. So, do not be afraid to enter an industry like this, these stereotypes are not always true and the results you will achieve are very rewarding.
So just remember, look past the stereotypes and always follow your passion and dreams just like I did. If you have any questions about this industry, computer science or undertaking a job in a male dominated industry like engineering I would be more than happy to talk to you.
So just remember, look past the stereotypes and always follow your passion and dreams just like I did.
Alumni Spotlight - Mackenzie Morrison
I was a student at St Nicholas' for a very long time, from 1999 through to 2013 and it is still somewhere which I hold very precious to my heart! Unfortunately, due to the Covid situation this year, I know there is no careers evening for girls in years 9-11 but I wanted to share a bit of an insight into me and my life after leaving school, in particular at how I got to running my own business.
I left St Nicholas' and went onto Farnborough Sixth Form, where I studied a varied range of A Levels, with the aim of going to University. I adored Farnborough Sixth Form and still believe that my time at St Nicks helped me there too. I did the 'normal' thing, completed my A Levels, and went to University. For me, this was a bit of a shock as it just didn't suit me personally or academically and to go from someone who loved school and college, to then no longer enjoying my education, took me by surprise.
I did a lot of research and thinking and having realised I was doing the wrong course, made the bold decision to leave 'conventional' University and pursue my dream career in another way.
I became a student at the National Design Academy & began studying Interior Design. They work very much like the Open University, so I studied my degree for 3 years part time and a diploma for 9 months before this, whilst working full time alongside this. I finally graduated this year achieving a First in BA Hons Interior Design. I had had plans to find myself a job in London - but then came Covid.
So I did something maybe quite brave & started my own business, Mackenzie Paige Interiors, earlier this year. I can only say that I am beyond thrilled with how it is going. I'm busier than I could have ever hoped for and the pleasure in seeing completed projects & happy clients is so worthwhile for me.
I would also be more than happy to talk to any girls (virtually!) who may want to pursue a career in this industry, or even who aren't sure on the 'normal' University route - it works for many people and I know people who flourished going to Uni, but I am personally very passionate, that there are many other routes to success too.
Siobhan Merriman - Undertaking a PhD in Human Factors Engineering at the University of Southampton and is designing, developing and testing a training programme for drivers of Automated Vehicles.
I left St Nicholas’ School in 2013, after having enjoyed 7 good years at the school. My favourite subjects were ICT and PE and I studied both these subjects along with Textiles and History as my optional GCSE subjects. Three stand out memories for me were the French trip to the Château de la Baudonnière in Year 8, St Nicholas’ Day every Christmas and Sports Day every Summer. St Nicholas’ School really helped me find my love for sport; I enjoyed playing all sports including running, netball, rounders, cricket and tennis and I loved being able to compete for my house (Unicorns) every Sports Day.
After school, I went to Farnborough Sixth Form College. I studied A-Level Psychology, Law and Applied ICT and AS Maths (statistics). I enjoyed my time at Farnborough and I felt like St Nicholas’ School had prepared me for the academic-leap to A-Levels. One piece of advice I would suggest is to choose subjects which you enjoy. I studied Maths because I thought it would look good on my CV/University Application. However, I did not enjoy Maths as much as my other subjects, and this definitely showed on AS results day. This made me realise that if you enjoy the subject, you will definitely put in the work and get the best that you can achieve.
In 2015, I went to study BSc Psychology at Royal Holloway University and I loved my time there. At university, there are many work experience and volunteering opportunities that you can take part in. I would really recommend getting involved in these opportunities; not only does it look good on your CV, but it also improves your teamwork, organisation and communication skills which are invaluable for any career path that you want to follow. For example, I became a peer guide for new undergraduates, a mentor for a sixth form college and I volunteered at various Psychology competitions and at the PGA Championship at Wentworth. I also had the opportunity to volunteer at The National Theatre and The Science Museum as part of a work experience scheme. I really enjoyed interacting with people of all different ages and nationalities and it improved my communication and research skills. It was these experiences that made me realise that I wanted to pursue a research career.
After graduating in 2018, I completed an MSc in Human Factors and Ergonomics at the University of Nottingham. Here I learnt how to apply my knowledge about Psychology (e.g. the brain, memory, attention, preferences, workload), the body (e.g. anthropometry, body size) and the environment (e.g. noise, heat and vision) to design systems (e.g. workplaces, machines, medical devices, cars, planes, advertisements), tasks and jobs which optimise human well-being and system performance. I was not aware of Human Factors and Ergonomics before I went to University. It was only when I was talking to some of the academics at Royal Holloway where I heard about the subject and was advised that this could be the subject/discipline for me. So, talk to your teachers and lecturers as they have plenty of knowledge about the different subjects, jobs and sectors that you can go into. I would not have found Human Factors Engineering, a discipline and subject that I enjoy, without their advice and support.
To finish off my profile, I wanted to briefly touch on my current activities. I am still heavily involved in sport; I play cricket for my local team and go cycling every couple of days. Since September 2019, I have been undertaking a PhD in Human Factors Engineering at the University of Southampton. My PhD is sponsored by IAM RoadSmart and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and I am designing, developing and testing a training programme for drivers of Automated Vehicles. Although I am finding it quite challenging, it has also been very rewarding- I have just published my first journal paper as the lead author!
So to finish, I will be more than happy to talk to any of you who wants to know more about the subjects that I have studied or about university and academia in general.
Sophie Meyer is an Archaeologist and runs her own enterprise that promotes LGBTQ history.
Hello old friends and new girls. I am an alumnus of St Nick’s from 2006. I now work in the Museums sector and run my own social enterprise which celebrates and promotes LGBTQ history.
I remember establishing my love of history from my time at school. I vividly remember going to France on a GCSE history trip, visiting museums and the fields where trench warfare took place during WW1. The opportunities to visit historic sites, such as Blenheim Palace, and come face to face with history is a privilege St Nick’s offers.
I was never the Grade A student at school, and despite my love of history, felt I did not have the academic prowess to succeed where my passion was. Some excellent advice I have carried with me from school is that there is no right way to succeed. I loved history but being dyslexic I preferred practical to essay based work, the answer, for me, was archaeology.
Since leaving school I continued down the road of history at Alton College and later Southampton University, completing both an undergraduate BA (hons) and Master’s degree in Archaeology. I completed my dissertation on the music of Ancient Rome, inspired by my love of singing and music- another hangover from my time at school. I was a member of Chamber Choir and finished my Grade 8 with Mrs Busby (who I was so pleased to see still teaches!).
I left the world of education for the cold, muddy realm of field archaeology with the Museum of London. I spent around two years working on excavations from sugar plantations in the Caribbean, to Tudor palaces in Surrey and even digging up medieval plague pits in London. Archaeology is an excellent way to travel and work internationally, to be at the forefront of historical discovery and nothing beats being the first person to hold an artefact since it was buried 1000 years ago.
After a very cold winter I decided to make a slight career veer, inside, and into the world of Museums.
Museums are important as they tell the story of who we are, and I see it as my job to make everyone know that history belongs to the people. I set up my work on championing LGBTQ stories as a response to the lack of diversity I was seeing in how our history was being told. Equality, accessibility and inclusivity are core values that I believe St Nick’s taught me and I live those values in how I act and work.
I can honestly look back and see that the choices and experiences I had at school informed so much of where I am today, from my work to my friends. I met my two best friends, Felicity and Amy, in Year 5 and 20(ish) years later they are about to be my bridesmaids.
My advice for you girls is thus; find your own path, believe in yourself and define your own rules for success.
Jade Gilley - Junior Materials Developer
I was at St Nicks for 9 years. At college I studied Maths, Physics and Textiles and went on to study Material Science and Engineering (specialising in Textile Science) at the University of Manchester.
This course covered composites, yarn/fibre science and colour physics to material testing, how to work with mills/factories and dyeing and finishing fabrics etc.
In 3rd year I did a placement year working as a Product Innovator for a large company in Manchester which was amazing and allowed me to travel all over the country as well as abroad!
I did my dissertation on Colour Physics, which involved looking into how we view colour, how colour is used on fabrics and MATLAB computer coding was used for the experiment.
I got a First-Class Degree with Honours, gaining the highest mark on the course - which is something I am extremely proud of. I also achieved 85% in my dissertation!
I got my first job 2 weeks after my last exam. I worked as a Junior Textile Technologist for a textile manufacturing firm which, although wasn't what I wanted to do forever, was such a big learning curve! I worked with mills in China, India and Pakistan, developing new textile products, testing fabrics and approving products. I was supposed to visit mills in China in March 2020, but the pandemic prevented this! I was put on furlough from April to August which gave me time to look for a new job. My dream job was to work for the sportswear brand Gymshark! I applied for my dream role as a Junior Materials developer and amazingly managed to get it (after many rejections previously!). The job involves working with our team in Hong Kong to develop fabrics with Far East and Near East mills. I work closely with designers to give them the exact the look, hand-feel and functionality of the materials they desire for their collections which such a big responsibility but so rewarding at the same time! It is the best job EVER!