Six alumni from Havering Sixth Form returned to the college to encourage and motivate current students – giving them invaluable insight into future careers and some thought-provoking advice.
The college, now part of New City College after a merger in 2019, celebrates its 30th anniversary this year and as part of the milestone celebrations, former students are being asked to come back to give accounts of their journeys since leaving the sixth form.
The six alumni – now on apprenticeships, working or at medical school – delivered aspirational talks to students about working hard and being successful in their next steps.
Havering Sixth Form Deputy Principal Phil Hall said: “To have so many alumni return in one week to college to give invaluable advice to our current students was fantastic. Sharing their experiences will raise aspirations and encourage our young people to strive for their dreams.”
More alumni will be returning for the college’s special Awards Evening in June which will recognise how Havering Sixth Form has shaped the lives of so many former students since it was opened 30 years ago on the site of the old Dury Falls School in Wingletye Lane, Hornchurch.
The Alumni who gave presentations were:
Daniella Howell, 19, – Daniella studied A Levels in Business, Accounting and Economics and is now on a Higher Level Apprenticeship as a Programme Support Officer for the Local Government Association. She works with politicians and government departments to improve services for local communities. She spoke to A Level Business and Economics students, advising them to make the most of all the resources at college so they could make clear decisions about their future, whether that be to carry on studying at university or take an apprenticeship. She recounted her time at college and urged students to revise for their exams thoroughly, giving them many examples of the different techniques that worked for her. She also told how preparation and carrying out research before an interview is key.
Calvin Lal, 18, – Calvin studied Accounting, Business, Economics and Core Maths and is now on a degree insurance apprenticeship as a data analyst for Marsh. He told Business and Economics students about his role and how he works with international teams that have been involved in constructing buildings like the ‘Gherkin’ and ‘Cheese Grater’ in the City of London. He said he chose the apprenticeship route rather than university because getting a degree and not having to pay a penny towards it – as well as receiving a salary and work experience – was a no brainer for him. He recounted his transition from leaving student life to working full-time and told students it is not as scary as they may think.
Aaron Lal, 20, – Aaron works as an Accounting Apprentice at KPMG in Canary Wharf and is aiming for a Chartered Accountancy qualification. He told students he applied for both apprenticeships and university and was rejected several times after interviews but just kept on applying and trying. He said: “Don’t give up. It’s a big world out there. You need to set yourself goals, think ahead and use all the resources and facilities you can while you are at college, because once you leave you won’t have access to that help.” He described how his apprenticeship gives him experience in many different departments and he will get the opportunity to see the world through being seconded to another country, such as America, Germany, Singapore or Hong Kong, as part of his work.
Jake Banfield, 33, a former student who studied A Levels in Business, Biology, Maths and IT went on to achieve a First in Business at Essex University and now works as a successful Magician with sell-out shows in London. Jake is also a motivational speaker and gave a fantastic presentation about his journey since leaving college, which included some amazing magic. He encouraged students to always put the effort in and strive to do their best, while emphasising that there are always ups and downs but you can achieve your dream career if you work for it.
Jack Wallace, 19, gave a presentation with his boss, Managing Director of Rodwell Engineering, Andrew Rodwell. They spoke to A Level Computer Science and IT students, offering an opportunity of paid work experience at the company which could lead to a degree apprenticeship. Jack, a former IT BTEC student himself, works at Rodwell and has been so successful in his position, that Andrew was keen to recruit another Havering Sixth Form student to take his place. The pair gave an informative talk about what is involved in the type of computer programming work – detailing how Jack has worked out coding for the machines that the company manufactures and is able to spot potential problems before they arise. They told students how the machines are marketed all over the world, to China, Dubai and New Zealand, and that some car parts in Lewis Hamilton’s F1 racing car had been through their machines. Jack started working part-time for Rodwell while studying at college 3 years ago and they were so impressed with him, they kept him on full-time after he finished college to do a Higher Level Computer Science Apprenticeship. Jack has progressed so brilliantly that Andrew is looking to replace him with one or more current students.
Lia Racovita, 24, who left Havering Sixth Form in 2018, studied A Levels in Biology, Chemistry and Spanish before progressing to Medical School at the University of East Anglia. She is now just one year away from being fully qualified as a doctor and came back to college to speak to students who are part of the Medics Enrichment programme. She gave an honest account of how hard Medical School is, emphasising that to be successful you need to have a real passion for Medicine. She told students that organised revision was the key to her success and that a lot of self-motivation was needed. She said: “I am so passionate about being a doctor. I love what I am doing and I love Medicine. I feel it is an honour and a privilege to be working towards my qualification, because it is so rewarding. But it is also very hard, so you must be prepared for that.” Lia said work experience within the NHS was essential so that students knew truly what day-to-day practical life as a doctor involved. She gave some brilliant advice about building confidence, revision tips, how to get into Medical School, interviews and how to find a balance and enjoy life as a medical student.