Rhiain Mackie, from Kirkwall in Orkney, wanted to go to university to make her family proud but faced some challenges along the way, however through sheer strength and determination she proudly took to the stage at His Majesty’s Theatre on Wednesday, July 10 at 2.30pm to collect her well-earned degree in Events Management.
The 24-year-old studied business at Orkney College as a stepping stone into university, which she says benefitted her hugely. She decided to study Events Management at RGU through the degree link as the course sounded really interesting and the modules linked in well with her business studies from college.
Rhiain had some difficult times during her time at RGU but was determined to ‘give it everything’ to make herself and her family proud.
She said: “I was given a diagnosis of focal epilepsy in 2018 while in third year which came as a huge shock and I found it very difficult to come to terms with. It meant some very quick, big lifestyle changes were made – all while working 30 hours per week and studying full-time.
“In February 2019, just three days before my final Main Event assessment, I was given the devastating news that my Granny had sadly passed away aged 79. She was a big part of my life and it all happened very quickly.
“While I had these hurdles in the latter part of my studies, I tried my hardest to power through and I achieved the highest results for coursework I have ever received – I showed strength I didn’t know I had.”
Rhiain said her time at RGU has helped her grow as a person and she has made lifelong friends.
“I am proud of my achievements and feel the support and guidance of the lecturers and tutors, as well as my friends and family, has been hugely beneficial in getting me to this point,” she said.
She said a main highlight was working in Utah, USA, for three months in the summer as a camp counsellor for the Kostopulos Dream Foundation, which is a charity organisation which offers recreational activities and respite for children and adults with physical and learning disabilities.
“The whole experience from beginning to end was unforgettable and the work they do is hugely inspirational.
“Part of the events management course included sourcing our own practical voluntary work experience for 100 hours per year, related to the events industry whether it’s charity events, corporate events, music and arts, sporting events. I feel this was a really good way of preparing us for future employment and it gave really good insight into the industry by experiencing a breadth of opportunities.”
Rhiain isn’t finished with RGU yet as she plans to return to study an MSc International Marketing Management in September.
“The Masters course really appealed to me as my dream career is to work in market research and consumer behaviour in the retail analysis context on an international level. The course also provides placement opportunities, which will be really good in giving practical insight into the industry”, she commented.
“RGU has been a very empowering experience for me as an individual and has allowed for some self-growth, which is something I had lost in the years leading up to my studies.
“I have been able to develop into someone who could work in the fast-paced events and marketing industries which involves speaking to all sorts of people and feeling more confident in myself that I could make a difference and be an effective addition to a company if I allow myself to be heard.”
Over the summer, Rhiain will continue her two part-time jobs within the NHS – a secretarial post with Royal Cornhill Hospital and a Healthcare Support Worker with Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital.