From artists to zoologists, many graduates view their time at Edinburgh as the formative years of their professional lives.
Here are a few of your experiences and updates on recent achievements and successes. At www.ed.ac.uk/alumni/profiles we publish five alumni profiles each month, and you can read short autobiographies of your fellow Edinburgh graduates dating back more than 70 years. You can also submit your own profile at www.ed.ac.uk/alumni/yournews – we love to hear where your Edinburgh experience has taken you.
BSC Chemistry 1963, PhD Chemistry 1966
“Studying at Edinburgh was hard work but enjoyable. Notable experiences included running the Charities Car Competition, canoeing down the Tweed from Stobo to Berwick and learning judo and fencing.
On the academic side, meeting and dining with Max Perutz and Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkins (both Nobel prize-winners) was a highlight, thanks to my wonderful PhD supervisor, Dr Marjorie Harding.
Summer jobs included working as crewman/barman on a little cruise ship (in reality a converted tug), the Second Snark. This involved cruises to all the islands in the Forth and to the Forth Road Bridge, including the day it opened.
My PhD was gained in the X-ray crystallography department. There was no computer and at first punched cards had to be taken to Glasgow University for processing on its primitive computer, DEUCE. Later we had access to the ATLAS computers in Manchester and Harwell. This involved sitting in Buccleuch Place in the evenings, punching out programs and data on seven-hole tape on flexiwriters and posting it to the appropriate organisation. Results came back four days later – usually with ‘parity errors’!
Through ChemSoc I had my first real game of golf and learned to skittle at the Sheep Heid Inn.
I taught in East Lothian for a number of years until I was appointed to the Scottish Examination Board as an Assistant Examination Officer in 1973. There followed a number of posts, culminating in my period as Chief Executive from 1990 until the government wound up the SEB in 1997.
I was, for a number of years, treasurer and membership secretary for the International Association for Educational Assessment. This gave wonderful opportunities to build a global network of organisations, and involved travel, for example to Africa, China, India and the Antipodes.
Since retirement I have taken up various hobbies, the most rewarding of which have been learning to play the clàrsach and church bell ringing. The golf, alas, has not improved.
There is no doubt that my studies at Edinburgh opened up a world of opportunity for which I am truly grateful.”
MBChB Medicine 2000
“I chose Edinburgh because I love Scotland, and it has an excellent reputation for teaching medicine. I had a wonderful few years in the city. It is such a unique, ancient city with many quaint haunts.
Being a country girl I enjoyed the fact it is not too big, and the friendliness of the people I met there.
I volunteered with the North Leith Parish Church Girls’ Brigade, which enabled me to mix with and get to know some Edinburgh natives (not just students). I remain firmly in touch with my flatmates from student days, who have become life-long friends.
After leaving University I completed GP training in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Two years in Shetland were a particular highlight. I loved the people and the life there.
In 2005 I set off for Ecuador, where I have been working for charity ever since. We set up Project Ecuador, a charity based in Scotland. I work in a village health centre, and run a child sponsorship scheme and a craft project. My Ecuadorean husband builds houses for the poor.
I love helping children to go to school so that they can access some of the wonderful opportunities my world-class education has brought me. Maybe one day one of our graduates will have the chance to visit the marvellous city of Edinburgh!
I have written my story in a memoir, Guinea Pig For Breakfast [Grosvenor House 2012].”
BSc Geography 2010
“I arrived in Edinburgh in September 2006. My parents had read that you should send your children to university alone, so loaded me on to the train at King’s Cross, London, with six suitcases and wished me ‘bon voyage’.
While changing trains half way through the journey I managed to offload half my bags onto the platform, ran back on for the other half and the train took off – leaving me bagless and on the wrong train. As if I wasn’t scared enough! As with all bad stories, though, that won me a few rounds during Freshers’ Week.
In my first year I got a job behind the bar at the Opal Lounge nightclub on George Street. As a result, I was not only able to support myself during university but I also entered the world that fuelled my current career. I made incredible friends who were also bartending and studying – girls that I am still best friends with today.
In third year, while doing a course on the geography of wine, I realised that there was a connection between the alcohol industry and geography, and thus based my dissertation on whisky and regional identity on Islay. I was finally able to combine my two loves – the spirits industry and geography.
My dissertation helped me apply for work and I got a job at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. After two years I became their first Global Brand Ambassador. I decided to further my education within this field and gained a diploma in distillation through the Institute of Brewing and Distilling.
In January 2014 I joined Diageo as their Luxury Malts Ambassador, focusing on the global launch of Mortlach Single Malt Scotch Whisky. I am now travelling the world launching Mortlach, and am very lucky to say that I’ve landed my dream job.”
Shelagh McGuire (Nee Kerr)
MA Economic Science 1955
“Having lived in Edinburgh during the war, I was determined to return. I was the only female student, with nine men, in the honours Economics class and was fortunate to have some excellent teachers, particularly Alexander Gray (Economics) and John MacMurray (Moral Philosophy).
I intended to become a social worker with children, and my economics degree included the right subjects. After four years in Edinburgh I attended the London School of Economics and obtained a Certificate in Child Care.
During my time at Edinburgh I was involved in many organisations – the Students’ Representative Council, the Debates Committee, the Women’s Union and the Women’s Athletic Club (in which I was President). Sport featured a good deal, particularly cricket and lacrosse, of which I was captain of the Scottish Universities team.
My career included work as a Child Care Officer, as a lecturer in social work and as director of a voluntuary adoption society. I have also been a Children’s Panel member and a marriage guidance counsellor.
I met my husband, Bill (PhD Biochemistry 1956), at the Women’s Union in George Square. Both our sons are Edinburgh graduates.”
MA English Literature 1988
“I chose Edinburgh because it offered courses I was interested in and the flexibility to mix and match between them. Also, the city is a spectacular place to be, with the streets steeped in stories.
There are so many memories – walking to the National Library of Scotland in January wearing what were then described as camel shoes and having the wet from the pavement seep through the soles and into my socks; walking around Calton Hill and Arthur’s Seat and watching the sun go down; my and my tutor’s delight in the cut and thrust of our debate during our tutorials.
After graduating I started in children’s publishing, then moved into the world of TV and during the next 23 years I gradually specialised in kids’ TV. Part of that time was working with the famous UK animation studio, Cosgrove Hall Films, makers of Dangermouse, Count Duckula and Wind in the Willows.
Now I run my own company, Hoho Entertainment, based in London. We produce our own shows and sell them worldwide as well as the rights for products such as books, toys, DVDs, apps, and games. I am very proud of our CG animated preschool series Cloudbabies. It was a real labour of love and we made it all in the UK which is a big achievement. It airs on CBeebies and is selling nicely abroad.”