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Alumna reveals how St Mary's set her up for success

Alumna reveals how St Mary's set her up for success

Since leaving St Mary’s, alumna Jemima Cuthbertson has completed a history degree at The University of Exeter and is currently studying post graduate law in Cambridge. She came to speak to our Sixth Formers on 2 March – she hosted a Learning Lunch and led a Sixth Form assembly. This is what she had to say about her time at St Mary’s and how it has inspired her.

When I was in Year 8, my history teacher at St Mary’s, Mr Peachy, started each class with an example of what happened on that day in history. This small act really inspired me, because what seemed to me to be a very ordinary day, was actually a day where something remarkable or life-changing happened in the past…

  • So, for the history geeks like me, early March 1917 saw the end of the Romanov dynasty, with the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II amongst the turmoil of the Russian revolution
  • For music and theatre lovers, on 2 March 1965 The Sound of Music had its world premiere in New York
  • 2 March 1949 saw the first automated street light installed in Connecticut, USA, before which a person had to go and physically turn the lights on and off each day
  • And finally, on this day 1969 Concorde had its maiden flight

These examples show that every day has the potential to change your life and the lives of those around you – if you can utilise your energy and embrace your goals, then anything is possible.

Hopefully your time at St Mary’s is providing you with the skills you need in life, to be able to accomplish your dreams, whether you want to be an engineer and be at the cutting edge of a new discovery or maybe write an iconic song such as ‘My Favourite Things’.

I know my friends and I look back at our St Mary’s days fondly and I’m sure in a few years you will too. You will be grateful for everything you learnt whilst you were here, especially what you’ve learnt beyond the classroom. For a start, the friendships you have now, will be your friends for life and will become your support system of the future. Small things you do now whilst at school, such as helping with the Lourdes fundraising fortnight, will instil in you an understanding and support of charities in the future. Having a position of responsibility in Upper Sixth or being a mentor for a younger student will make you a better citizen that understands the need to give back to society.

Since leaving school I have been heavily involved in charity work, from volunteering with the Alzheimer's Society, to helping a small local charity develop their social media, and it has shown me that small acts can have a big impact.

St Mary’s provided me with a safe space to learn and try new things, to find the thing I loved and was great at, whether that be in the classroom, sports field, music room or textiles suite. Every day you are learning new skills and values that will shape your future more than you may realise now. We can all be forces for change, whether your passion lies in the environment, social media, science or art, you can use that to make the world a better place, so take small steps in the right direction and with good friends, the skill set you have naturally developed from school and determination, you should know anything is possible.

If I can give you one piece of advice, it would be to set yourself goals, whether they be practical  –  like to get into a specific university or secure a job in a certain field  –  or whether you dream big of being a world champion or the person that finally cures cancer. I have personally found this extremely helpful to know where I want to be, to motivate myself and to have purpose. If you have clear short and long term goals that you are aware of, you will find every day has a purpose and you will have a direction to something you are working towards, you will naturally make small steps in the right direction and therefore you will already be on the road to achieve them.

When I was at this point in Upper Sixth, as Head Girl my short-term aim was to create a fab Sixth Form ball, my medium-term aim was to get the grades I needed for my Exeter offer and long-term I knew I was working towards being a solicitor. In the competitive legal sector, this clarity of direction really set me ahead of my peers because I knew I wanted to be a solicitor from about the age of 15/16, so now at the age of 21 I have 8 periods of legal work experience which is always noted by employers at interview. Therefore, having a clear goal you are working towards enable allow you to make small steps to strengthen the realisation of achieving that goal. Even if it’s as simple as getting a week of work experience now, you will be very grateful when you later come to completing application forms for your first job or are sat in an interview trying to find an answer as to why you chose this specific career. 

I have learnt that with passion, hard work and small steps in the right direction anything is possible, so set goals, strive to be the best version of yourself, say yes to opportunities that come your way and aim high and you will all be successful at your next stages, whether that be university, an apprenticeship or your first jobs.

Please make the most of the limited time you have left at St Mary’s and enjoy every second, because you never realise just how much you loved school until you leave.

Learn more about life beyond Sixth Form at St Mary's