LAURA MACKENZIE (left RGS in 2017)
Last summer I gained a BA (Hons) in photography from the York St John University. I have also qualified as a Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) marine videographer. Being able to incorporate my passion for diving alongside my university degree has made my university experience all the more enjoyable.
Being a photography student has opened many doors and my confidence around the subject has increased and led to incredible opportunities and commissions, such as photographing a christening and a wedding and taking headshots of actors at York Theatre Royal. I have also had several of my shots displayed in restaurants and cafés in and around York and also at the university campus.
My absolute passion is for underwater videography and photographing marine life - particularly sharks - and this was what I based my year-long final year project and my final dissertation on. I was lucky enough to dive with reef and nurse sharks in the Exumas, Bahamas, which was an incredible experience, both as a photographer and as an advanced open water diver.
Qualifying as a marine mammal medic in the summer of 2019 for British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) has also increased my knowledge of marine life and, when I was lucky enough to receive an invitation to a lecture by Doug Allan - cameraman, cinematographer and underwater videographer for David Attenborough – I got an insight into various routes which are now available to me.
I am so grateful for everything I attained at RGS in my seven years at the school, not just qualifications but in terms of the help I received from the staff and my peers at RGS, whether that be interview preparation, personal statement advice or anything else connected with the university application process. But school is not just about the qualifications and RGS helps us to become well-rounded individuals and instils a confidence in students that remains with us throughout our lives and careers. Above all else, I simply enjoyed my time there, making the most of the opportunities available to me, representing the school in sporting fixtures, taking part in school trips and volunteering for all manner of projects. It is these experiences that have helped form my decision to become a primary school teacher. I have spent this year gaining experience in a variety of primary schools – I am currently volunteering in Burneston C of E Primary School and before Christmas my placement was at Sharow Primary School. I start my postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE) in September at Durham University and can’t wait to get started.