Former Student Profile - Amy Mason, Class of 2003
We are looking forward to welcoming Amy back to school as one of our Year 12 Inspire and Career speakers Tuesday 3 March Period 4 in the Hall.
What years did you attend WHS? I attended WHS from 1997-2003.
What did you get up to at WHS in terms of study and extracurricular activities?
In terms of study, I did GCSEs in Maths, Double Science, English Language and Literature, Spanish, IT, Art, Textiles, History. I initially started AS Levels in Chemistry, Maths, Biology and Classical Civilization. However, I wanted more of a challenge with Mathematics and the school supported me in adding Further Mathematics AS level as an independently studied subject. I much preferred it to Biology, so in Y13 I took Chemistry, Maths, Further Maths and Classical CivilizationA-Levels.
I put some of these studies to good use, by helping tutor some of the younger students in mathematics in my spare time and competing in the European Kangaroo Maths Challenge. I indulged my love of musicals by getting chorus roles in the Sound of Music and Oklahoma, directed by the excellent Mr Tucker and even tried my hand in directing for the Y8 drama competition (along with the excellent Helen O'Neill).
Do you have any fond memories you’d like to share?
For the production of the Sound of Music, I had to waltz on stage. Sadly I was so bad at dancing, I kept causing the band to break down into giggles at rehearsals - and the waltz was the worst of it! I used to practice on the school field at break time, and one lunch the Headmaster came running down from the roof. He'd spotted me trying to waltz and asked if he could teach me. It turned out that he'd been taught to waltz by a teacher at WHS while he'd had been a pupil at RGS! He was keen to continue this traditional, and with some good pointers from him and a lot more practice I managed to take the stage without completely disgracing myself!
What did you do after school? Gap year, straight into business or Uni.
I went straight to the University of Oxford, where I studied Mathematics at Magdalen College. I chose Oxford because it was a great university, close to home and somewhat familiar from day trips to the town. It has a huge number of theatres and puts on dozens of shows every term - it gave me the chance to be involved with a garden production of ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’, a huge charity production of ‘Into the Woods’ at the New Theatre and many more. I loved the people I met there, and the subjects I got to study - I liked it so much I even came back to teach there after my PhD.
What are you up to now?
I work as a statistical researcher, looking into how statistics can answer medical questions. This involves lots of looking at data and calculating statistics, but also a good deal of programming in statistical computer languages. My paper on the so-called "weekend effect" in hospital mortality was published by the Lancet in May, and I've also done work on E. coli and the spread of antibiotic resistance. Currently I am investigating the factors that cause cardiovascular disease with the University of Cambridge. I've only recently moved there so it is still very new to me, but I'm really enjoying it.
What do you know now that you didn’t in Year 13 that you’d like to share with current students?Ay
That picking a degree in one subject, doesn't mean you can't change your mind and study (or research) in another field later. I started in Mathematics and ended up in Medical Statistics; similarly the head of Statistics at Oxford did her first degree in Chemistry. Most scientists I know have changed fields from where they first started. A degree is only the first step, and any core science degree can take you in many different directions from there.
Also, that Maths students get longer lie-ins.