Profile: Hannah Armstrong
Hannah is the new Access and Schools Liaison Officer at Univ. She came to Univ from Imperial College London, where she was a Management Trainee, and previously did a master’s degree at St John’s College, Oxford.
What did you do before you started working at Univ? How did you come to Univ?
Before coming to Univ I was working at Imperial College London as a Management Trainee. This was a really diverse role that meant I worked right across the College, but my favourite bits were always working with our local communities and students.
I’d previously completed my master’s at St. John’s, Oxford, so I knew a fair bit about outreach and access in Oxford. When the role came up at Univ, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to specialise in the aspects of my job I enjoyed most and to return to a university which I loved.
What does being Access and Schools Liaison Officer in a pandemic involve?
The pandemic has been a very steep learning curve for everyone, but for Access Officers we’ve had to completely reimagine how we interact with students. All of our events are online now and, whilst we’re looking forward to seeing prospective applicants in College again, we’ve been able to welcome students onto virtual study days (events which include taster lectures, Q&As, and an Admissions talk) from areas where a day trip to Oxford would usually be unfeasible.
Our digital support, such as Univ’s Staircase 12 which brings together book recommendations and web resources to help students explore their subject, has become increasingly important. But it’s also become clear that not all students have easy access at home to the IT equipment necessary to access such resources, which is why we are now launching new projects such as the Digital Access Awards. These awards, which include IT equipment and data packages, will help make sure no student is unable to access an online outreach event because of a lack of technology.
What is your proudest achievement (personal or professional)?
Abseiling down a 100-foot cliff despite being terrified of heights! (Maybe that and graduating from my master’s degree)
Do you have any advice for prospective Univ students?
Work out what it is you love about your subject and really dig into that. I know as a Year 12 student I fell into the trap of reading books for my personal statement which I thought would sound smart but which actually I wasn’t that interested in. It’s so much harder to talk about these at interview and your passion for your subject won’t shine through as well.
Is there an Oxford myth you’d like to bust?
I think the myth that I’d like to bust is twofold. Firstly, you don’t need to be a genius to get into Oxford. You need to be bright and on track for high grades, of course, but you don’t need to be somebody who has always got straight A*s/9s. If you’re on track to meet the minimum grade requirement and you’re passionate about your subject, then you absolutely can make a competitive application to Oxford.
My second point is that if your application is unsuccessful, this is not a judgement on your intelligence or worth. Due to the sheer number of applications we receive every year, lots of brilliant students who we know will go on to do really well in their subject are sadly unsuccessful. Oxford is a fantastic place to study, but it’s not the be all and end all.
What do you like to do for fun?
During lockdown, I’ve got really into cooking and crafting, so my home is now littered with random wool scraps which I’m not sure what to do with, and Nigella Lawson’s recipe website it one of my top visited webpages!
Describe Univ in three words.
Friendly. Supportive. Forward-thinking.
Published: 4 May 2021