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Brenda Morris (BA English and American Literature 2007)

Biography

English was always my best and favourite subject in school and, in addition, I like writing poetry and Odes. The opportunity came up for me as a member of the University's staff and I was encouraged by my then boss, to study for. I grabbed the chance to achieve something that I never could have done before because I had travelled around a lot due to my parents’ work. I started with gaining A levels and then joining a course in what was then, Continuing Education, at London Road. This gave me an important insight into essay writing and during this course I was encouraged to carry on and do a degree. The rest is history.

Why did you choose to study at the University of Reading?

Having worked at the University for more than 20 years and often taking part in the Graduation Ceremonies, a lump used to come to my throat with pride for the graduands, and it still does. I wanted to feel part of the ‘big family’ that the University is for its graduates and I wanted to really be a part of the institution. In addition I was offered the opportunity to organise my course in a very convenient way, with evening sessions, 2 nights a week, a perfect way to fit in with my full-time job. The tutors were wonderful and the whole experience extremely stimulating.

What was the best bit about living and studying in Reading?

Convenience. I know the campus and its facilities very well and I loved getting to know the library even better. The whole experience was very gratifying and I enjoyed the beautiful campus and its facilities to the full. High points were the plays at Bulmershe to feed into my degree and an amazing trip to the Globe Theatre.

What top tips would you give to students who are beginning their studies?

Become familiar with the library; befriend your tutor; join the University's community and go to Study Day Skills sessions. Perseverance and positive thinking will be essential at University: be well organised and try and balance your family with your work life.

What top tips would you give to students who are about to graduate?

Learn how to manage stress: put yourself on a positive thinking course to combat nerves. The University provides a lot of assistance for medical and psychological needs: use it. Don't leave your work to the last minute and structure well your revision: allow at least a month for it.

What are you up to now? How did you get there?

I am the Campaigns Assistant/Office Manager in the Campaigns and Supporter Engagement Office. I have grown with the job through many changes. When I started, there were only 2 people on the team and now there are 23!

How has the University of Reading helped in your chosen career path?

It's given me a solid grounding and an insight into education today. It's helped to broaden my knowledge, especially with the training that was provided. Working and studying here meant that I felt very supported whilst raising a family: I was given security and peace of mind, which were invaluable through difficult times then. My studying experience actually inspired my new husband to return to studying. He also became a Reading graduate, gaining a CertEd.

Why did you decide to give to the University of Reading?

I give in 2 ways: through The Friends of the University and as an alumna donor. Working in CSEO, I am aware of how important donor funds are and how they make a difference to students and to the University, therefore inspiring me to give to the University. As a member of The Friends, I also have access to other projects that the departments are unable to cover and I have the opportunity to keep in touch with ex members of the University's staff and links with the community.

What does the University mean to you and what is your favourite memory?

I have so many fond memories: a lifetime of them – it will be 30 years in July this year! I have loved attending and being responsible for reunions in the past. They are perfect occasions to meet a vast number of people who feel close to the University, as I do, and provide a chance to talk with a widely diverse range of graduates, whose lives have been changed by their time at Reading. The University means a lot to me. It is my security and I consider it to be my extended family. In particular I found the support of my group of mature students, invaluable. Some of them are lifelong friends.

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