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Near the beginning of Autumn 2017 I took my first steps through the gates of University of Chester’s Parkgate Road whilst figuratively taking my first steps on a journey I will never forget.

Back then I was somewhat nervous when wandering around campus, attempting to figure out where I was supposed to be, but by the time I got to meet some of my colleagues, and now good friends, I started to settle in and focus on my academic career.

I remember the first few lectures where I had to tentatively come out of my shell and introduce myself to everyone in the room – “My name is Jordan Adams, from Hawarden in North Wales. I’m 19 and I enjoy writing creatively.” Very brief and to the point, I kept myself to myself and so did the other students. We were all in the same boat.

One of those people who I first started speaking to, building a mutual friendship through my high school links with her partner, was Dominique Billingham, a keen rower for the University’s rowing club who, like me at the time, was a novice to the vast world of Journalism.

“I’ve developed when it comes to using software like (Adobe) InDesign and Premiere Pro, which I’d never even used prior, and of course a writing structure as well,” she told me when describing the differences between then and now. “Some modules I think are more useful than others but in general I think that each has taught me something new I can take with me into a job.”

I think it is safe to say that with any new experience we are taught a variety of useful skills, information, advice and all sorts of things previously unknown to us, and it is no different here as Dominique points out. However, something else university opens up for us is a sense of self-realisation or a sense of belonging that we previously have not encountered.

Dominique realised her passion of rowing was something she wanted to pursue even further, taking it from hobby and exercise to a way of teaching others, using her own experience on the water. “Next year I’m looking at coaching the University rowing club and helping out with the Northwich youth rowing project,” she said. “I’ll be taking a step back to do something I really enjoy.”

The extensive work she produced over the three years at University of Chester saw her put together many articles and videos covering countless topics through to a blog, magazine and finally ending definitively with her dissertation.

To say she is an expert when it comes to rowing may be somewhat of an understatement. It is essentially her life, and University helped her realise that.

Dominique, pictured here on the right, is UoC Rowing Club’s Vice-Captain for the current season.

Now of course it is difficult not to bring up the topic of the COVID-19 pandemic we are all concurrently having to deal with. It has wreaked havoc on our daily lives, forcing us to lock down and protect our loved ones by essentially protecting ourselves. The world has suddenly been stopped in its tracks.

“Obviously this isn’t the way any final-year student wanted their time at university to end,” Dominique admitted. “Taking pictures with dissertations on campus and getting to celebrate with friends has been non-existent. Sitting at home never crossed my mind on how my time at university would end.”

Those thoughts and feelings have surely passed through our minds as well – the bleakness of having to isolate ourselves day in, day out, contrasting the elation of what could have been – finally finishing three years of long, hard work and being able to share the moment with those we started that journey with.

Wilfred MacDonnell also believes the ending to academic life has been anti-climactic.

Wilfred, known to everyone on the course as ‘Wilf’, is an avid sports fan who has an interest in travel writing having been to many locations across the world to soak in the sights.

“I do think it’s a shame how it’s all ended so abruptly,” he wrote to me over live text. “I would’ve personally liked to feel the achievement of printing off the dissertation, but it also would’ve been nice to have a less formal meet up with everyone on the course.”

With this journey essentially nearing its conclusion, instead of focusing on the negatives I proposed it was best to reflect on the fonder memories of University life. So, what does Wilf remember over the past three years?

“The best memories were normally in discussion lectures. Even though as a group we were very quiet, lecturers like Raz (Ian Rasmussen) and Ato (Erzan-Essien) really made an effort.”

And what about University life in general?

“I had a great time at University of Chester. It was a perfect environment for me in that the demands weren’t hugely time consuming, which meant I could enjoy my football whilst not falling behind on the course.”

I myself managed to find balance between personal and work life during my time here, making sure both needs were satisfied in the process. Although at times it seemed like a lot of work for a particular article or assessment the overall time at University went by pretty fast, especially with that pesky COVID-19 pandemic cutting it short.

One thing I can tell you for sure when it comes to university: do not take it for granted. The memories gained and the skills acquired as well as realising oneself in terms of ability and worth is far superior than any other aspect you can think of, and Wilf agrees.

“I would recommend the Journalism course 100%,” he said. “If you have any interest in journalism at all then it will be catered for. As for Chester, you have to arrive with the knowledge that it is generally speaking quite a quiet place, but aspects such as the high level of sports participation really make up for it.”

With Wilf planning to apply for internships and working part-time in the near future his hopes of travelling to South America could be boosted by his career aspirations, something he can thank University of Chester for helping him achieve.


Although the COVID-19 pandemic limits the ability to travel, our colleague and friend Meghan Edwards was able to report on an alleged attack in Winsford recently in April.


Jordan Taylor, who I have become good friends with throughout the course of my University experience, is an environmentalist who takes pride in producing content on the topics he cares about such as the environment or LGBTQ+ related issues.

Whilst finding it hard at first to grasp the concept of coming up with ideas for stories from scratch, and likening journalists to salespeople, he has come to terms with the intricacies of the job and is now thoroughly invested in having some sort of role in the profession, be it PR or even marketing.

He spoke to me over Microsoft Teams recently, giving his thoughts on Journalism at University of Chester.

“Skills, contacts and the experiences you go through as a person,” are the three most valuable assets Jordan thinks you can gain during the duration of university. “University is a journey for you personally where you can be put in situations that are difficult, situations where you’re put under pressure and it’s how you respond to it. Some people leave university after a year or two because there’s certain mental pressures that get to you and, unlike school, it’s much more focused on you and your own willpower to succeed.”

With that willpower comes the chance to set targets and overcome them. I myself set personal targets to achieve, such as making sure one of my most recent assessments in the production of a magazine was to the best of my abilities. Giving yourself a “Things to Do List” is essential for anyone who wants to keep organised and on track in their line of work.

Is there anything Jordan is proud of producing since he started in his foundation year?

He would say no, as when taking time to ponder the question he ends up admitting to not be the type to boast about one’s own work. Instead, he believes the work, such as the magazine or videos, are some pieces to have surprised him in how they turned out.

“My advice would be to focus your stories,” he started. “Don’t go about doing the first thing that pops into your head. Try and get a theme going through, so when you’re showing work to people in the future you’ve got something which shows you have an interest.”

And with that focus he reckons those teetering on the decision to join the Journalism course here at University of Chester should “just go for it,” and to “tailor it to your interests.”

“You want to look back on your work and see a reflection of you as a person,” he said. “Have an end goal and ask yourself, like with any degree, why you’re doing it. Definitely go to the Open Days at University of Chester and ask your questions to the lecturers there. They’re friendly and approachable.”

“Overall, it rounds you as a person and you pick up a lot of skills, so I’d definitely say go for it”.

Whilst not having a clear end goal at the start of my university degree, at the end of it all I now know where my future prospects lie. I have made memories and built up courage and confidence I never had prior, allowing me to become employable in the process.

Echoing Jordan’s words - the best thing to do is to “just go for it,” and see where the journey takes you. It will be the best decision you will ever make.

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undergraduate journalism