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Student experienceUndergraduate

My Durham journey

“It’s not what you have but who you are”

Your time at University flies by and you rarely take the time to reflect on who you have become because of it. Like so many students who are reaching the end of their degrees, I have started to reflect on my Durham journey (something I am not quite sure I want to end). I applied for Durham University’s Supported Progression Programme back in 2016, not thinking at the time how pivotal it would become to where I am today.  University was a route I had always considered, however, being the first in my family to even consider university I struggled to imagine myself achieving that goal.  The opportunity of Supported Progression gave me the chance to make what seemed unlikely at the time, into a reality. At sixth form I didn’t achieve the highest grades in the class, nor was I the most confident, therefore entering via an alternative route to many of my peers (having not secured those A*’s or travelled the world) made me doubt my place and ability to do well before I had even arrived.

However, when I did arrive at my college, on that first Sunday, our principal expressed to us how St Chads would soon become our home. A home filled with new adventures, opportunities, and friendships. That speech alongside the college motto, “it’s not what you have but who you are”, is something that has never left me. Coming toward the end of my degree in what is an unprecedented time, the message our motto conveys has never been more fitting and appropriate. It continues to remind us that we are not defined by our successes and mistakes, but rather it’s the lessons we take from them and the people we become that is of value.  Through every opportunity to try something new or to give back to a community that has done so much for me, has shaped the person I have become. When you join a community such as Durham, you become so much more than the title of your degree. 

You are a member of your college!

College becomes more than just a place in which you live. It is a small community which you become weirdly patriotic toward. When you introduce yourself, you find yourself reverting to the first-year way of pleasantries, listing your name, course and college. Your college not only becomes part of who you are, but it has been central in shaping my journey. I have loved my college experience. I am proud to have dressed in my college colours for our college day, put on my gown for a formal, or my stash for a college visit to a primary school. College is a centre of support, opportunities, and encouragement. College provides you with that comfort zone to become who you want to, in a transition that can appear particularly daunting at first. I have had an amazing college experience and although my three years here may have been cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic, I know being a Chadsian will remain with me forever. 

You are a friend!

Memories at Durham are made by the people you meet. You start your journey worried about even making one friend. But quickly see how easy it is to make friends, in your college, course or anything you choose to get involved in. You are never short of a friendly face to turn to. Your friends at Durham soon become like your family.  You will have your disagreements like any family do, but they are always there. Whether that is to go for a coffee, a walk along the river, a meal together or simply being there to listen. 

The support of people, I am glad to call friends is something I am incredibly thankful for.  Friendship has opened my eyes to new adventures, my mind to new ideas and I’ve gained life-long friendships.

You are part of a community that can make a difference!

Durham has provided me with so many amazing opportunities. Joining Durham means being part of something bigger. It is about the communities you create in your sports teams and societies. It is about representing the voices of your fellow students, as part of the Junior Common Room (JCR) executive committee or meetings with University staff. It’s about being a part of the wider Durham community.

During my time at Durham, my aim has always been to give something back. Give back to the community that started my journey here, the place that has welcomed me, and a place I can call home. I have been able to work as a Durham Student Ambassador, for the University’s Access, Engagement and Recruitment teams. Seeing my journey reflected in the students I meet. I became a volunteer, whether that has been helping a 4-year-old learn how to read or sharing a cup of tea with an elderly member of our community.  The difference and impact you have are never truly visible, not only is it a rewarding experience. But it is something that has influenced the next stage of my journey and ambitions. 

In particularly challenging times, it is important to remember who you want to be.  In a world where you can be anything, be that positive difference that the world seeks right now. 

For more information about the Supported Progression programme click here.

To download our new 2021 prospectus click here.

Follow our students on Instagram and YouTube.

Chloe Robson

Hi everyone, I’m Chloe, final year Education and Psychology student from St Chad’s College and I grew up in South Tyneside. I have been a Durham Student Ambassador since I started university. So, if I am not doing my degree or work you can normally find me procrastinating by watching an unconventional amount of Friends and FaceTiming my dog.
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