After almost three years of service, Vanessa Baptista, AccessHE’s London Innovation Programmes Officer, will be leaving the team. We reflected on all she’s achieved during her time with us and talked about the exciting move she will be making next!
Who are you?
I’m Vanessa and I’m 27. I have been the AccessHE London Innovation Programmes Officer since May 2016. In September 2018, I went part-time to allow me to embark on the PhD in Medieval History at UCL.
What did you want to gain from your role?
As a student from a widening participation background (first in family, low income, low attaining secondary school) who studied at a Russell Group institution, I have seen many of the societal barriers that young people from less advantaged backgrounds face. This is an incredible injustice and I was excited to do something to tackle it.
What did you work on during your time with us?
Originally, my role consisted of managing and developing the AccessHE Creative Network and the AccessHE Online Project. Although the AccessHE Creative Network ultimately came to the end, we were able to develop the first AccessHE Creative HE Apply Guide in July 2018. The Apply Guide has now become an output of the AccessHE Creative Forum, who are currently developing version two of the Guide. AccessHE Online is an online learning platform aimed at learners in year nine and above. I launched the platform and helped develop courses with HEI Members.
More recently, I have been running our summer school programme. I have organised and helped deliver two London residential trips for year 12 learners engaged with Greater Manchester Higher, the Uni Connect operating in Greater Manchester, and a day trip for a group for year nine girls engaged with HeppSY+, the Uni Connect
operating in South Yorkshire.
What was your personal highlight in your time here?
My personal highlight has most definitely been working on the summer school programme. Organising the summer schools is stressful and often a logistical nightmare, but once you are there with the students it is a wonderful experience. For the AccessHE Capital Summer School, the students self-refer. This means they all come from different schools and colleges and few know anybody else coming to London. Watching their confidence grow as they make new friends and take part in activities is amazing. You can really see the impact of the work, in such a small amount of time.
What’s next for you?
I am moving to the Conservatoire for Dance and Drama to be their Widening Participation and Equality Coordinator. I’m excited to continue to work with AccessHE, albeit as a Member!