Friday, August 8, 2014

Ella Jakubowska won the Female Undergraduate of the Year Award in 2013! Read her final blog one year on...

After a whirlwind study abroad year at McGill University, followed by my incredible three month Rolls-Royce internship in Derby and Beijing, September 2013 finally rolled around, ushering me into my fourth and final year of undergraduate study at Leeds University. It was the most academically intense year of my life, and I developed a genuine passion for the dissertation I was writing. It focussed on representations of non-conventional masculinity in twentieth-century war literature, a somewhat niche but (genuinely!) fascinating area of study.

The academic year flew by; in October, I was surprised but very pleased to be awarded an Athena Swan Woman of Achievement commendation from Leeds uni, which entailed a lovely ceremony and photo-shoot, so that was very exciting! Then at Christmas, I continued with my yearly family tradition of helping to run a Christmas homeless shelter as a key volunteer for Crisis, a charity that is still really close to my heart.

With the new year came new challenges at university, and so my next few months were mostly spent in a blur of visits to the library. After immersing myself in the challenging world of contemporary and millennial fiction for my Finals, I decided that Id like to make the most of my last university summer by jumping onto a plane to Malaysia to visit my brother. I then spent six weeks backpacking through Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam, with a similar outlook to the one Id had in Beijing: one that meant doing, trying and eating everything, even if it was out of my comfort zone. Thanks to some local guides, I got to experience local cultures and livelihoods in a really privileged, intimate way, although of course my trip also featured the obligatory backpacker hostels and parties!

On the final day of my travels, I received the news that I would, as hoped, be graduating from Leeds with First Class Honours after attaining a strong First for my dissertation, and an even stronger First for another extended essay. It was really rewarding to know that my hard work was paying off, awarding me among the strongest marks of my entire university career. Graduation was a surprisingly relaxing and enjoyable day; the ceremony itself was lovely, and it felt like such an achievement to have made my family so proud. It was not until I was saying goodbye to friends and getting ready to head back to London, however, that it really hit me that my time as an undergraduate, with all the amazing experiences it has given me, has really finished.

As for the future, Im very glad I have the Customer Management graduate programme at Rolls-Royce to look forward to. My first placement, starting this September, will be in the Defence sector in Bristol, and my current house-hunting gives me something to keep me occupied! After how well my internship went, I think that I have quite a lot to live up to as I return to Rolls, but I couldnt be more excited for the challenges to come, and for the opportunities to improve as a (business) person. Wish me luck!

Ella Jakubowska, English Language and Literature, University of Leeds
2013 Winner of the Female Undergraduate of the Year Award 2013 sponsored by Rolls-Royce

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