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Chair of Convocation Sophie McDermott on her Newcastle University journey

Talking to Chair of Convocation, Sophie McDermott, we discuss Sophie’s commitment to Newcastle as an alumna and her plans for the next five years working with the Newcastle Advancement Team.

How do you feel now that you have been announced Chair of Convocation?

“Over the moon and a little bit shocked still, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect as I know I am only a very recent graduate and have very difference experiences from those who are perhaps further along in their careers. Now that it’s starting to sink in a bit I definitely feel happy and excited to get started!”

Tell us about your journey from Newcastle University to where you are now.

“So, I graduated Newcastle Uni in 2018. I received a joint honours degree in history and Politics-which I really loved. So much so that in my final year I ran for election for Activities Officer which was, at the time, one of the six sabbatical roles at the student’s union. This was a fantastic year, working with now some of my closest friends and getting to work alongside the University. It was in this role that I gained real insight into how the University functions and I found I really enjoyed that.

When I finished that role I moved down to London to the role I am in now which is working for a global design, engineering, construction company. I adore this role but knew I wanted to keep that special connection with the University and continue to support some of the work I had seen taking place during my sabbatical year. Therefore, I put my name in the hat for convocation and here we are!”

What attracted you to the role of Chair of Convocation and what most excites you about it?

“I think the chair is a really special role to take on, as you are essentially offering guidance to the University on behalf of the alumni, and there are so many of us! I think as a result of that, one has to be quite a people person to take on this role and that’s something that really spoke to me as an individual. It is also a great opportunity to stay connected to Newcastle University and the people here, and to the ongoing work. I’m chuffed to have even a small role in that work as chair!”

Tell us about your future plans with the Advancement team and our alumni network.

“I think there are some really exciting things in the pipeline coming from the advancement team which I will wholeheartedly support. I think the big thing will be the growth of the NCL spark platform and what this can offer in terms of connectivity to one another- alumni to alumni and also to current students. I think my first focus will be increasing professional events and fun opportunities for our grads all over the world.”

What should we expect from you and the advancement team in the coming five years?

“In terms of what alumni can expect from us, I think they will see a big digital transformation, a change in the way we perhaps communicate and host events- in order to keep up with a digital and globalising world. I would like to be seen as approachable and I’d like young grads to feel they are very welcome in the community. We will be placing emphasis on offering the events, networks and communications which our grads WANT to see. It is worth saying that the next five years are going to be huge and we can’t do that without our alumni community on board.”

Is there anything else you would like to highlight to our alumni community that you haven’t already?

“I think for now the most important thing to highlight is to get in touch. The next year or so we will be developing some really quite exciting projects and we need our graduates to be involved and have a say. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me whether by email or by social media, or to the team here.”

Follow Sophie’s Twitter and Instagram!


published on: 19 December 2019