Venue and Operations Manager for Taliesin Arts Centre
Tell us a little about studying at Swansea and what your job is now.
I've experienced a variety of jobs over the years! My main interests are education (in its various forms), community development and project management. Since January, I've been the Venue and Operations Manager for Taliesin Arts Centre, right in the heart of Singleton Campus.
I studied French and German with Business Studies and graduated in 2001. I spent a year travelling Australia and New Zealand after graduating. I picked grapes, sorted onions and potatoes and worked at a fair - just anything to make some money to be able to go on to the next state!
After coming back to Wales, I worked for a PR company in my hometown of Aberystwyth. A friend sent me an email saying that a university in Brittany was looking for a Welsh tutor who was also able to speak French. So, I sent my CV and two months later I was on a boat to St Malo! I spent two very happy years in Rennes. One of the highlights was organising a linguistic and cultural trip to Wales for the students.
I then spent a short period as a translator for Swansea University's marketing department and was delighted to be back at Singleton campus, although a little nostalgic for my Uni days!
I was Education Coordinator for the housing and people charity, Shelter Cymru and the first Chief Executive of the London Welsh Centre. I spent 8 years with the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol as Arts and Humanities Officer, then as Academic Manager. I was a Senior Manager on the Open University's PGCE programme before joining Swansea University in early 2023.
This job feels like I've come home!
Not many from my school came to Swansea at that time. Most were heading for Bangor, Cardiff or staying in Aber. Maybe it was a desire to be a little different, and it paid off! I stayed in Clyne Farm on a residential course when I was in year 12 and I think that also influenced my decision. I just loved the location and the views and being between the country, the city, the sea and the occasional mountain!
Also, I really liked the idea of studying three subjects, and Swansea offered that opportunity.
Tell us a little about your time at Swansea and your favourite things about the University
I had the time of my life as a student at Swansea University. Everything fell into place – the course, the social life, the friendships, the accommodation and the city. I remember crying so much on the last day of my first year, realising I wouldn't see the college gang for three months!
I was an enthusiastic member of the GymGym (Welsh Society) and played for the women's football team. Both things meant trips to other universities and a fantastic trip to Belfast in 1998 to represent the Welsh Universities women's football team.
I loved being able to study part of my course through the medium of Welsh. This was before the days of the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol and I am very grateful for the initiative and dedication of the lecturers who made that possible. It was a completely natural feeling to discuss French and German through thre medium of Welsh. I was also lucky to spend a year abroad as part of the course. Another unforgettable experience and more tears when it ended!
Swansea University now has two campuses, of course. The Bay Campus is very modern, but Singleton Campus will always be very close to my heart. I just feel at home when I'm here. There is a buzz but a relaxed feeling too.
The friends I made at university are lifelong friends. We have shared some of the best experiences of our lives and grown into adults together, in one of the most beautiful, vibrant and diverse areas of Wales (in my opinion!).
What would you say to someone who is considering coming to study at Swansea University?
My advice would be to come to a Swansea University Open Day. Even if the weather is miserable, the atmosphere is good, and the welcome is warm. Although it is a city, there is a special intimacy to Swansea, and I think that residents appreciate the contribution of students to the culture and economy of the area.
There are countless opportunities through the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol Branch if you want to study through the medium of Welsh and Tŷ Tawe in the centre of the city welcomes students who speak or learn the language to events and activities.
I've left Swansea several times but this is where I've returned each time. That speaks volumes. I consider myself half Swansea Jack now. I feel so lucky to have settled and get a job I enjoy in a city and a university that means so much to me. I am a very proud member of the Swansea University alumni community and hope to be able to contribute more to campaigns to attract and support students, in the hope that they will also enjoy the unique experiences I had a quarter of a century ago as a student and continue to do so today as a member of staff.