Interview with student volunteer Jodie McGoldrick

Postgraduate Coordinator Cath recently caught up with one of our undergraduate student volunteers, Jodie McGoldrick. Jodie is a first year student in the School of History, Archaeology and Religion at Cardiff University and so is new to the SHARE with Schools volunteer team. She isn’t, however, new to the SHARE with Schools project, having experienced the workshops from the other side at Mountain Ash when she was a sixth form pupil nearly 2 years ago.

Recently, as part of SHARE with Schools, Jodie delivered all four workshops to pupils from her home turf; this included her presenting sections on Cynon Valley history to the entire class. She did this in front of her, very obviously proud, former A-Level History teacher.

In the interview, Cath asks Jodie a few questions about her motivation to go to university and her impressions of SHARE with Schools from when she was at school.

Cath: When did you first decide that you wanted to go to university?
Jodie: I’d always really wanted and been encouraged to go, but it became realistic when I got good GCSE results.

What made you decide that you wanted to go to university?
I wanted to get a good job. It sounds silly but when your surrounded by people on benefits in the valley or people struggling to live of minimum wage you want to do better for yourself, so that you never have to struggle. Plus, everyone I spoke to said the experience was amazing.

How did you decide which universities to apply to?
I used the UCAS site a lot, because it listed all the universities that do history, the entry requirements and the course details. But I was drawn to the Welsh universities and the high ranking English ones.

Why did you decide to come to Cardiff University?
Firstly, it has a great reputation in Wales as it is, with it being a Russell Group university also. It was also far enough away from home for me to experience freedom, but close enough to not feel isolated. Mainly though the decision was influenced by the interaction and support I received from Cardiff University throughout the applying process. My insurance university didn’t email me once, whereas I had members of your university sending me emails and letters, offering me to come to applicant’s Open Days and coming into my school. Cardiff made the whole process seem less daunting and so I felt much happier coming here than the other ones I’d applied to. There was just much more support.

Did you ever feel that university wasn’t achievable?
I had really great teachers and a lot of support so I wouldn’t say so

How do your friends (excluding those you have met at Cardiff) and family view university? Were you encouraged or discouraged to apply?
Well a few of my friends go to different universities in Wales and they have a pretty similar opinion to me, so they encouraged me. But some of my friends are still at home, in part-time jobs or college and they consider university to be a waste of money and something that just isn’t attainable to them. They didn’t so much discourage me because they knew I could get fairly good grades, but they didn’t encourage me either. My family are really supportive and there will be three of us in university education by next year.

You have mentioned that you attended a SHARE with Schools workshop in Mountain Ash Comprehensive School when you were in the Sixth Form. Did you find the workshop to be informative and/or helpful?
I found it really helpful when the sixth form discussion was held. It gave me a chance to speak to an actual student and find out about their experiences in uni, especially with things such as time management and budgeting. It was great to hear of someone who was actually going through it as it reassured a lot of us. We usually only have our teachers to speak to and whilst they could say ‘you’ll be fine’ they couldn’t give us any real examples. So speaking to someone else really helped. It was also good to speak to someone who was only really two or three years older than myself, it made uni seem a more realistic aim as I could relate to them and what they were saying.

Did the workshop help answer any questions that you had about university life?
Yes, especially about the budgeting and the accommodation. The ‘leaders’ of the group also talked about jobs after uni which was really helpful; the MI5 one particularly stands out.

Did the workshop help you decide to go to university?
I had already decided by that point because I was doing my A Levels, but it did really reassure me that is was a possible and realistic aim, despite coming from Aberdare.

Did the workshop help you choose Cardiff University?
Yes, definitely. The staff were helpful and fun and they made me feel like I would be welcome if I came to Cardiff.

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