City, University of London student speaker Rachel Preston, reflects on the importance of widening participation in higher education as she graduates with first class honours.

By Matthew Little (Communications Officer), Published (Updated )

The Speech and Language Therapy student spent three years working as a Widening Participation (WP) Ambassador at City, organising and attending activities for school children who are underrepresented in higher education.

Graduating as student speaker for the School of Health Sciences, Rachel focused her speech on the vital role that WP outreach work plays in improving access to higher education.

Student speaker, Rachel Preston with her husband Souleymane Ba and four-month old daughter Eleanor Ba
Student speaker, Rachel Preston with her husband Souleymane Ba and four-month old daughter Eleanor Ba

Speaking in front of her lecturers, fellow graduates, proud parents, husband Souleymane Ba and four-month old daughter, Eleanor Ba, Rachel said:

“Working as a WP ambassador was the highlight of my time at City. The fact that City’s WP team works so hard to bring local primary school children onto campus, and encourages them to apply to university is something special.”

“As part of this work, we hosted school kids from areas of low-progression rates, showed them around our campus and talked to them about the merits and opportunities of higher education.

“With initiatives like this, universities can play a key role in supporting and empowering students in their local communities and through this experience, I have met the most inspirational, hard-working and motivated young people.

“Despite being in the heart of a big global city, this university really cares about making an impact in its local community. Some of those very same primary school children who visited City have gone on to study here and that makes me very proud of our work.”

Rachel Preston (MSc Speech and Language Therapy)
Rachel Preston (MSc Speech and Language Therapy)

Since finishing her course last year, Rachel has been working fulltime as Speech and Language Therapist at Guy’s and St Thomas NHS Foundation Trust.

Taking a day out of work for her graduation, Rachel reflected on her journey at City:

My time at City truly nourished my love of learning and curiosity. I’m really excited to be in the process of publishing my university research project, and hope to come back and study for a masters.

Other than marrying my husband, coming to City to train as a Speech and Language therapist, has been the best decision I’ve ever made.

– Rachel Preston (MSc Speech and Language Therapy)

For more information see Speech and Language Therapy at City.

For information on WP at City see Widening Participation and Outreach at City.

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