Former Student Profile - Jenni Evans - Class of 2011
What years did you attend WHS?
What did you get up to at WHS in terms of study and extracurricular activities?
I was the creative type - most of the time you could find me in the art classrooms.
Do you have any fond memories you’d like to share?
I have so many amazing memories of being at Wycombe High. Mostly I remember the spirit and camaraderie of my year. As a group, we didn’t take things too seriously and relished being at school, surrounded by our friends. I’m glad we made the most of our school years.
One memory I cherish is of a portrait workshop with famous painter Jenny Saville, whose work I absolutely idolised while I was at school.
I also remember fondly the mentorship (and patience) of Mr Rushton getting me through some of my tougher teenage years - I will always be very grateful for that.
What did you do after school? Gap year, straight into business or Uni.
I went to study an Art Foundation course at University College Falmouth in Cornwall. I knew I wanted to do something creative but wasn’t quite sure what yet - this course gave me a year of studying a breadth of creative disciplines to try everything out and see what interested me most.
If you went to Uni where did you go and why did you choose it?
I had set my sights on joining the advertising industry as a creative - so went to Leeds College of Art (now Leeds Arts University) to study creative advertising. It’s a three year, vocational course where you refine idea generation skills as well as learning the context of the advertising industry and wider creative theory.
What are you up to now?
After my degree I spent a fast-paced four years in a London-based advertising agency. In the end, I didn’t become an advertising creative, and by chance, I ended up working in the new business department. This is the department which runs pitches for new clients and marketing for the agency. I gained a ton of experience in this role, working alongside senior management to drive new business as well as hosting events, running the awards programme and getting involved in a ton of extra-curricular stuff. I even got to travel to France to attend Cannes Festival of Creativity and to an awards do in New York during my time there!
I recently moved into the charity sector, where I work in fundraising for an organisation called Sue Ryder. It’s a national charity which provides hospice care and bereavement support to people across the country. My job is to inspire people to donate to the charity through direct marketing, as well as managing communications for people who give regularly so they have the best experience of the charity possible.
What do you know now that you didn’t in Year 13 that you’d like to share with current students?
I think at school there was a lot of pressure from many angles to make a ‘perfect’ next step and achieve success in an instant. Yes, your next decision will affect your path, but you can always change your mind. Nothing is perfect and nothing lasts forever, so run your own race and try your best not to compare your journey to others.
I recently read a book called Am I There Yet? by illustrator Mari Andrew, she said “Make decisions to impress only two people - your 5 year old self and your 85 year old self”. She’s right, if you remain true to yourself, you’ll always end up where you’re meant to be.
There is a big wide world out there, and it’s not like Wycombe High, go into it with an open mind, be willing to learn and listen, but also make sure you stand up for what you believe in. Looking back now, I lacked confidence when I left school. This meant I was indecisive, I was terrified of failure and wasn’t taking control of my future, and I think this is true for many young women. This, combined with the cultural stereotypes and assumptions about creative careers not being a ‘real job’, means there are a lot of barriers to women entering these industries - I want to do my bit to break these barriers down.
I recently founded a women’s network called Represent Creative which aims to showcase the variety of creative careers available for young women. It’s authentic advice about creative careers from women who are actually living it. https://www.represent-creative.co.uk/