Former Student Profile - Talia Drew, Class of 2013

Guild Y13

We look forward to welcoming back Talia to school on Tuesday 24 March 2020 for the Year 13 Inspire and Career Talk and Networking Event.

What years did you attend WHS? From 2006-2013

What did you get up to at WHS in terms of study and extracurricular activities?

I really enjoyed sport, and was part of the tennis, badminton and hockey teams. I also coached badminton to year 7-9 when I was in year 11 and 12, which I found really fun as it gave me an opportunity to meet and interact with younger students!  I also really relished English literature and was part of the creative writing society, this was awesome and I loved hearing other students work. I have always been fascinated by how differently our minds all work and creative writing was showcase to the individuality we all possess!  DofE- I did silver and gold. Gold I did canoeing in Sweden and had the best time being a real life member of the famous 5.

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

I was lucky to build friendships that have withstood the test of distance and time. Most of my memories relate to spending time with my friends! School was just as much about mischief as it was about learning and lots of my memories are related to being silly, especially in science (sorry Dr D).

Taking part in the legal competition that we entered with other schools was so much fun. I acted as a solicitor and got to mix with students from other classes that I wouldn’t usually have engaged with. I also felt it helped with the development of my own confidence and public speaking abilities!

Morocco world challenge was a great experience – exploring a new culture with school friends and making new friends was special.

Both German exchanges were also very fun, I got to meet new people from other local schools and also learn lots about Germany, the culture and minimal language practice!

What did you do after school? Gap year, straight into business or Uni.

My trajectory was not linear post-school… I took a gap year, mainly because I had no clue what I wanted to be. I worked part time at Waitrose, volunteered at a school for children with special needs and got some work experience with a social worker. I also went skiing, travelled around Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Hong Kong, China and South Africa. I decided to apply to study social work at the University of Bath. For anyone unsure of where they are headed after school, take a year out! It’s a good opportunity to have space to reflect and have time to unwind after several years of hard work.

If you went to Uni where did you go and why did you choose it?

Bsc Social Work and Applied Social Sciences at the University of Bath. I chose Bath as it was a campus university, and I wanted everything to be in one place. Bath is also a beautiful city, and it isn’t too big so it wasn’t a daunting place to start my journey of independence. It’s also really close to Bristol which has good nightlife and has the buzz of a big city. I chose social work as I knew I wanted to be in a ‘helping profession’, and felt that social work was a nice mix between involvement with individuals, theory and research. I did really enjoy the degree and had amazing placement opportunities, where I got the opportunity to work with disabled children, Syrian refugees and adults with mental health difficulties. It was these experiences that highlighted that the therapeutic, psychological element of social work was where my heart lay. I decided to apply for a conversion masters in my final year of study, as I felt taking a break from studying to earn money may de-motivate me.

Msc Psychology (conversion) University of Surrey. Surrey is quite like Bath in terms of the campus and town itself and so I felt really at home studying here. I lived with my parents whilst doing this degree as I was working as a part time Honorary Assistant Psychologist in a Diabetes service, alongside working as a support worker at an inpatient CAMHS hospital. Both of these jobs were in Berkshire and so living at home was both convenient and cost effective.

Doctorate in Clinical Psychology University of Surrey. As I’m sure some of you know, getting into study clinical psychology is incredibly difficult, and Surrey was the only place I got an offer from. I also applied to Oxford, Kings and Sheffield but was unsurprised when I didn’t even get interviews for those institutions. I had to first sit an entrance exam, comprising statistics, academic writing and a situational judgement test, before being invited to attend an interview, where I had 2 panel interviews. I was delighted to be offered a place on my first year of application and of course accepted. I now live in Guildford and am in my first year of the doctorate.

What are you up to now?

I’m a trainee clinical psychologist in my first year at the University of Surrey. My degree is 2 days a week teaching/ research and 3 days a week on placement. I had intense CBT training at the start of the year and am trying to integrate this into my clinical work as much as possible, as this is the therapeutic modality most favoured by the NHS at present. I’m also conducting some research alongside my practice. This is something I find really compliments the clinical work I do and will hopefully help inform future practice. I’m currently on an adult mental health placement. It can be difficult as a trainee in the workplace, especially given how young I am/ look. I’ve had to learn ways of demonstrating my competency and gaining the trust of my patients, but these learning experiences have always helped me grow and develop. I find reflection really helpful in my work and have a supportive supervisor who challenges me to reflect on my practice, what influences my decisions and how I can continue to grow and develop.

In my free time I cycle and rock climb, mostly bouldering as it’s most accessible after work / on weekends but I have been abroad to climb and to various places in the UK such as the Gower, Peak District and Pembrokeshire. Exercise/ sport give me a break and some space from the often emotionally taxing work that I do. I really love psychology and feel honoured to be able to make a difference to people’s lives, but working in the NHS is stressful and often fraught with dilemmas of funding and eligibility for people to access services. I spend lots of time with friends, going on holidays and exploring the world. These things are my passions outside of psychology and keep me sane! As I was born and lived in South Africa until I was 7, I’ve always been interested in different cultures and ways of living. I try to go back often to visit family and friends who are out there, but it’s difficult trying to fit everything in to a busy schedule.

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

It’s totally ok to not have a set path in life. Life is a journey that keeps changing direction. You don’t have a set route to get to your chosen destination and you can enjoy yourself along the way. Pick something that inspires you enough to get out of bed in the morning, it’s important to enjoy what you do. Having said that, it’s also essential to have things outside of your career that drive you, keep you thinking, doing, growing. Life is all about balance, I liken it to trying to remain upright on a balance ball. You never stand still, because if you do, you fall off. We constantly have to make micro-adjustments to keep standing, and in life that often translates to change. Change is ok, even though it’s pretty scary. As long as the choices you make align with what’s important to you, you’ll end up ok. I’d also say that in times when things are difficult, it’s important to reach out, speak to those who can support/ advise you. We all need a helping hand sometimes and it’s often the most compassionate thing to do, to reach out. Our society puts us on a travellator when we are born, we are constantly moving forward through school, uni, a career. I don’t really think this method of existing is conducive to contentedness and fulfilment so if you fancy hopping off and taking a break, that’s ok! Do what feels right for you.

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