Kathryn Symmonds - BA (Hons) Management

Kathryn Symmonds - BA (Hons) Management
Kathryn Symmonds' RGU journey was as much a personal one as it was an academic one, and after overcoming some of the toughest times she will proudly take to the stage to collect her hard-earned degree.

The 23-year-old, from Aberdeen, has always wanted to run her own business and after years of hard work, and persevering through the grief of losing her Mum and her Grandpa within years of each other, she will graduate at The Music Hall on Tuesday December 10 with a degree in Management.

Kathryn said her time at RGU has shaped her into the person she is today – resilient, confident and happy.

“I feel like my university journey is slightly different from the normal journey,” she said. “I messed up my first year after losing my Grandpa and had to repeat a few first-year modules. This was quite difficult as I was thrown into a year with completely new people and felt like a failure but now I know everyone’s journey is different and we learn from the mistakes we make and I am so grateful to RGU for accommodating this.

“I had quite a normal second year, although I was battling some health issues and had just moved out of home for the first time. Then my third year was my best and worst year all in one. While I was on placement at NHS Grampian my mother passed away due to cancer and I am so grateful to the staff at NHS Grampian and RGU for being so supportive. My health also suffered greatly but I didn’t give up. This taught me how to deal with things and work at the same time.

“Fourth year was also difficult as I was grieving but I persevered and I feel so proud that I managed to get my degree. I really feel like my time at RGU has shaped me into the person I am today, I am more confident, happy and focused than I was before. It also taught me that it is ok to make mistakes and that if life gets in the way that’s ok and it’s important to have a work life balance.”

Kathryn said that despite the hard times, her placement at NHS Grampian was a highlight of her time at university.

“As a Marketing Assistant at NHS Grampian, I learnt how to work on different marketing projects and realised that I loved marketing and that was what I wanted to do. This year was one of the toughest years of my life, personally and professionally.

“After my mum passed away I was quite lost and unsure how to cope so I used the student counselling services at university. The counselling services offered me 1 to 1 sessions and I was able to talk through my feelings with a trained professional. This is an amazing service for any student facing difficulty, whether it is bereavement or dealing with living away from home they can really help.”

During her time at university, Kathryn also worked with Access RGU as a student ambassador as she says it’s thanks to the Access To Management programme she got a place on her course.

She said: “I was coming to the end of my 6th year at school and I had four rejections and one conditional for a course at another university that I didn’t really want to go to. I was looking at colleges as it seemed university was out of the picture when my friend became sick and asked if I wanted to go in her place on the Access to Management Course at RGU. I thought it would be good for either my college applications or for next year’s university applications.

“The course was six weeks with other school pupils and run by the access staff and the Management programme staff. After meeting the staff and enjoying the six weeks, I went from having four rejections to two conditionals. This programme gave me the opportunity to show university staff my abilities and they changed my offer completely.”

After her third year placement, Kathryn realised she had a love for all things digital and is now studying an MSc Digital Marketing at RGU.

“I realised that if I wanted to work in digital marketing, I would need to improve my skills as it is a fast-paced industry,” she added. “This course is incredible and very practical so it is really suited to my learning style.”

Reflecting on her journey at RGU, Kathryn said: “When I first came to university I was a young girl unsure of where she was going or what area she wanted to work in. I am happy to say I am leaving a woman with industry contacts and experience that will prove vital when I enter the full-time working world.

“I have also learned to be resilient, I honestly can’t count how many times I downloaded the suspension of studies form only to realise that I couldn’t give up because I had so much more to give and although the world threw everything it possibly could at me, I got my degree. I’d like to thank my friends and family for their continued support, in particular my Dad Peter who graduated with the same degree in 2008. And to my fiancé Sam, my sister Jessica, brother Robert and to my lovely Mum for teaching me to never give up.

“The main thing I learnt at university was that everyone is different. Everyone develops at different rates and has different paths for me my path just happened to be longer and that’s ok. It’s the same destination in the end just a different journey.”

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