My decision to go to Durham, and specifically to Van Mildert College, was made during a summer school I went on in 2011. Everyone was immediately so friendly, and so passionate about their university that it was instantly infectious, so by the end of the week, I couldn’t imagine finishing my education anywhere else.
Wouldn’t change a thing
Graduating this summer, I realised that the experience has lived up to, and even surpassed my expectations. Graduation is a time when everyone reflects on their years at university, panicking that they haven’t made the most of it – they’re meant to be the best years of your life! But I can say with relative certainty that I wouldn’t change the last 3 years at all. While it was hard at times (degrees are stressful!), I’ve made friends for life, had experiences that are totally unique to Durham, and I’ve learnt so much, beyond just my degree!
I enjoyed so much of my time here that it’s hard to pick out just a couple of things to talk about. Most fresh in my memory would be Summer Ball of 2017. My housemate was Co-Head of Ball this year, so I got a view that not many get to see – basically how much effort, commitment and stress it takes to bring it all together. In the end, it all paid off, as it was easily the most wonderful night I’ve had at university, and the perfect end to my time at Durham. I must have said ‘it’s so magical!’ at least 30 times in the first hour alone. Fast forward through a delicious meal, fairground rides, an Ed Sheeran Tribute, and S Club to 4am, clinging to the people who’d got me through the last three years yelling Robbie’s ‘Angels’ at each other. It was the only way I’d want to say goodbye to student life.
Volunteering at Van Mildert
A different, but equally important part of my Van Mildert experience has been outreach and volunteering. Mildert has 6 outreach projects that allow everybody to be involved in the wider community in some way. Opportunities to volunteer through the college include; Young Persons Project, Carers Respite Committee, Primary School Project, the Secure Centre Mentoring Scheme and the Environmental Conservation Committee.
I was part of one of the Primary School Project for two years, and was on Exec in my last year. The kids I worked with were lovely, and leaving them at the end of every year was always really hard. I found that I learnt so much more than I could ever teach them, and honestly, it’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve done whilst at university. I’m sure any other volunteer at any volunteering project across Durham would agree.
Making a difference
Outreach and community is integral to Van Mildert, with Mildertians completing over 6,300 volunteering hours during the last year, and 20% of all Durham University volunteers coming from Mildert. This just demonstrates how important outreach and community is to our college, and how much every member takes the motto ‘sic vos non vobis’ ‘Not for yourselves’, to heart.
#MildertMeans has been a new initiative this year that encourages community and belonging in one of Durham’s biggest colleges, and outreach fits so neatly into this. It’s at the core of everything Mildert is, and the giving and generous nature of everyone I’ve met here is exactly what #MildertMeans to me.
Overall, I feel like Durham and Van Mildert have given me so much, that I wasn’t ready to go just yet, I really wanted to give even more back to the community that has given me so much. This is why I decided to stay on for another year as Mildert’s new Sabbatical Development Officer. Mildert can’t get rid of me quite yet!
I’m really looking forward to meeting all the new students due to arrive at Van Mildert and encouraging them to get involved.
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