Former Student Profile: Rachel Burden

The Guild

Rachel attended Wycombe High School 1987-1993

Rachel attended Wycombe High School 1987-1993

What did you study / what extracurricular activities did you take part in at WHS?

Aside from the usual GCSEs, I did four A-levels - English, History, Politics and Practical Music. I scraped into the hockey B team, but was slightly better at athletics, representing the school in sprints, middle distance and high jump. I did a lot of music - playing at school assembly, conducting class choirs and performing at school concerts and in the orchestra. I also took part in a number of joint productions with John Hampden including ‘The Taming of the Shrew’. I was President of the sixth form common room and spent most of my tenure trying to persuade our then headmistress to let us wear trousers...It didn't work.

Do you have any fond memories you’d like to share?

I loved my whole WHS experience. I made fantastic friends with whom I've stayed in touch over the last 20 odd years - there are around 15 of us who meet up regularly. I remember lovely long lunchtimes lolling around on the school field, or gossiping around our desks at break times. In sixth form especially we had a great bond with a couple of our teachers and persuaded them to take us on a 'field' trip to Russia - I'm not sure it had a huge amount to do with the syllabus but it seemed like a ridiculously romantic adventure at the time.

What did you do after school? Gap year, or straight to university?

Gap year - I spent five months working as a volunteer with CSV, as a carer to a severely disabled woman. Then I returned home to work and save money before heading out to Taiwan to teach English - travelling back through China and Russia - which I did on my own, before the time of mobile phones, causing my parents some anxiety I think.

Which university did you go to? What did you study and why?

I went to Trinity College in Dublin. My family comes from the Dublin area, but I also liked the idea of going to a city where I didn't know any other students. It's a beautiful university and is bang slap in the middle of one of the greatest cities in the world. Trinity had a fantastic reputation and the History and Politics degree was quite highly regarded - at the time there were only 10 places on the course. The added bonus was that I started University just as the Irish government decided to abolish tuition fees.

What do you know now that you didn’t in Year 13 that you’d like to share with current students?

That you work harder for your A-Levels than probably anything else you'll do in your life - but it's worth going for it. And at University, I'd probably tell myself to spend less time in the pub and more time in the library. But I had a ball, so I don't really have any regrets.

Rachel Burden, Class of 1993

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