Farewell to the class of 2015

How will this year’s graduates cope with ‘real life’?

It’s July, which means the University of York must bid farewell to its class of 2015. As they set off on their many and various adventures, we catch up with six  graduands  to hear from them their highlights and where they’re headed next…

Sam wainwright (Chemistry, James, 2015)

Sam Wainwright

I am a member of James College. Not posh new James, mind: old, dingy James, in an old, dingy room which looked out on the lake. Being in a lakeside block had its upsides (lovely sunsets reflected in the lake) and its downsides (woken up at 4am every spring morning without fail by the goose which took it upon itself to fly down the lake at like a hideous cockerel.) But I genuinely loved being in James.

I am a chemist. Apparently, chemistry students are the only students to refer to themselves in this way. History students never call themselves ‘historians’, and find it very irritating indeed that chemistry students call themselves ‘chemists’. Whatever you call it, I am now fully qualified in pouring things without dropping them, amongst other valuable life skills.

I played the saxophone in the university big band. I love swing music, and I take every chance I can to make music with other people. I was also heavily involved in the student media. I couldn’t write a coherent sentence when I got to York, so I’m not entirely sure who put me in charge of editing and publishing the writing of other students, but nobody made a formal complaint at any point.

I think I’m meant to have met the love of my life at university, right? I’ve definitely made some friends for life at York. On an academic level, the highlight has to be my dissertation project on cancer drugs. It was absolutely fascinating, and my dissertation report is something I’m incredibly proud of.

After graduation, I am moving to Bristol to do a PGCE teaching course. So it’s time to say goodbye to the city of the Vikings and the white rose. You’ve been wonderful, York.

Beth Jakubowski (Politics with International Relations, Derwent, 2015)

Beth Jakubowski

I spent most of my time at York working for one of the student papers, Nouse. As a Sports Editor, and then as Deputy Editor, I largely wrote about university sport and campus life. I also played for the women’s cricket team, and for my first two years at York those two societies were my life! On the odd occasion when I wasn’t writing or playing cricket I was in the politics department doing my degree, Politics with International Relations.

What  I’ll miss most is the people. I’ll miss my housemates, my friends at the paper and being able to walk into a library and know fifty percent of the people in there. York has a small town feel, and I’ll miss that security. As for my graduation plans I’m going on to do an MSc in Reproductive and Sexual Health Research at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Alice Mills (Maths & Economics, Halifax, 2015)

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Alice Mills

I have just finished my degree at York studying Maths & Economics. I was initially worried about my degree choice – having not done economics before I started – but it was a gamble that paid off! I looked around the university before I applied but I didn’t appreciate what a beautiful city I would be living in for three years.

I had tried in my second year to get many internships and failed miserably. So when I started my final year I knew that getting a job would be tough. I applied for one job a day and by the end of easter I had secured a full time job as a Market Intelligence Analyst.

Alice Olsson (English Literature, Langwith, 2015)

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Alice Olsson

In July I will be graduating with a BA in English and Related Literature. But my time at York has introduced to me to so much more! I have been the Chair of a student organisation campaigning for the freedom of persecuted writers and have volunteered with international charities working for the right to freedom of expression.

In September I’ll be moving to London. I will be studying for an MA in Comparative Literature at UCL. I already miss York and its fantastic, engaged student community.

Harry Whittaker (Theatre, film & Television, James, 2015)

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Harry Whittaker

It’s hard to articulate just what my time at York has meant to me. I’ve improvised with ‘The Shambles’, I’ve written and performed for panel and sketch shows, had the opportunity to play parts I never thought I’d play.

I have been propelled by University Radio York onto what I hope will be a career path for life. More than anything, I’ll miss the kind, creative, and inspiring people York has allowed me to meet.


yn gan (English Literature, Alcuin, 2015)

YN Gan
YN Gan

I studied straight English in the Department of English and Related Literature. Aside from my studies, I was a course representative for all three years, and was the Chair of the Student-Staff Committee (SSC) in my third year. I was actively involved in international student welfare and representation for the university, being Campaigns Manager for the International Students’ Association (ISA) in 13/14 and Vice-President of the ISA in 14/15.

It’s difficult for me to pick a “highlight” for my time at York, simply because my time here has been so multifaceted. I tend to think of my life in the university as structured around my different “roles” – there’s the diligent English student Gan and the helpful Course-Rep Gan; there’s the serious Gan on the Board of Studies; there’s the flamboyant ISA Gan; the bilingual CSSA Gan – and each of these roles have had their own highlights. After I graduate from York, I will go on to do my MA – also in English – before returning to the Ministry of Education in Singapore where I will begin my career as an education officer.


YUSU President Sam Maguire invites you to be a part of the Class of 2015 Challenge by giving what you can and leaving an important legacy. Your donation will help York students overcome the financial barriers they face in undertaking internships.

Sam said: “Each year over 4,000 students graduate from York.  Wouldn’t it be great for the class of 2015 to start a tradition which aims to leave a positive legacy for students who follow them?

“ I am asking you to make a donation today so that we can work with more students next year, helping them to access opportunities that will ensure they can get the jobs they deserve and reach their full potential. In addition to this, make your first donation today and Chancellor and alumnus Greg Dyke will add 50% to the value of your gift.”