Queen Mary Alumni

Clearing alumni profile - Rebecca Dooley

Clearing turned an awful situation on its head and provided me with a way to not be held back by missing my grades. I am so thankful Clearing was available as an option, and that it was such an easy process, given the stressful circumstances!

(History BA, 2013)

 

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Why did you choose to study History at Queen Mary?

I had applied to study Law and had King’s College and Queen Mary as my first and second choices. I unfortunately missed the grades for both my first and second choices and ended up devastated on results day, with a really important choice to make and not much time to make it!

My best friend calmed me down, wiped my tears and took me straight to the computer room and the UCAS website to see what my options were. I first checked the options available to study Law and I wasn’t able to find any universities of the calibre that I wished to study at, and I wasn’t willing to drop my standards just to get a place. It was then time to decide whether to study a different subject, or to go back for another year and re-sit my A-Levels.

I knew I definitely didn’t want to return to sixth form so I thought about which of my A-Level subjects I would most want to spend 3 years studying and History was a no-brainer. I had a lifelong passion for History and felt it would give me all of the transferable skills I would need for a career in Law. I then searched for available courses and was thrilled when I saw places available at Queen Mary! I had a brief look at the structure of the course and loved the look of all of the modules, and the breadth of options available.

I called the Clearing line, had a brief telephone interview and was told I had a place!

How did you feel when you got into Queen Mary via Clearing?

Relieved! Not getting my grades and my place to study Law was absolutely devastating but I felt like I had been able to make the best of a bad situation by getting a place in a great university to study a really interesting course.

If you end up needing to use Clearing, don’t panic! Be calm, take your time to think of your options and be sure to only choose a course you will really enjoy! This will help you during any telephone interview you may have, as you will be able to show a passion for the subject.

Why was Clearing such a positive experience for you?

Clearing turned an awful situation on its head and provided me with a way to not be held back by missing my grades. I am so thankful Clearing was available as an option, and that it was such an easy process, given the stressful circumstances!

What aspects of your degree did you find most enjoyable and was there anything that surprised you in your studies?

I loved the sheer variety of options available, which allowed you to really focus on the topics and time periods that you were most passionate about. I think the most enjoyable part of my degree was my “Special Subject”, which was focused on the Troubles in Northern Ireland. It was an area of history that I personally connected with due to my Irish background, and that I had always wanted to study in depth, and I absolutely loved that entire module. I also really loved the additional support I was given by writing my dissertation as part of my Special Subject.

I was most surprised by learning about historiography (the study of the writing of history and of written histories) as this wasn’t really covered that much during my A-Levels. I found this aspect of History really fascinating.

Which period of history do you find most interesting and why?

I have always said I am a bit of a bad History graduate as I am only really interested in very modern History, i.e., from 1800 onwards! I know all History is relevant to the present in some way, but I feel best able to identify with more recent time periods as you can more tangibly see the outcomes and consequences of events that occurred.

Was it always your intention to become a lawyer? Why did you choose to study History as a precursor to Law?

Definitely! I decided in Year 11, very cliché, when we studied To Kill a Mockingbird, that I wanted to be Atticus Finch and I have never looked back! As I’ve explained, studying History wasn’t my first choice, but it was definitely a great precursor to Law as it provided me with the research skills needed to succeed in Law, and gets you used to reading and analysing reams of material!

How did you get from Queen Mary to where you are now, and can you describe your current role?

It took me a very long time to get to where I am today! After graduating from Queen Mary, my intention was to take a year out to work, then get a training contract, do the GDL and LPC and qualify as a solicitor but this is not really what happened! Getting a training contract is extremely difficult and competitive and I have only just started mine in 2021, almost 8 years after graduating!

I got a job in the University of London the September after I graduated (after a summer spent waitressing very badly!) and ended up spending six years there in order to fund my legal studies and I don’t regret a single moment! I started out working in the examinations department and, over my six years, was promoted through the ranks until I reached junior management and was responsible for one of the flagship distance learning programmes offered by the University. This was invaluable experience, and I am now so thankful to have had a career before Law as it has definitely made me a more rounded individual.

In my current role as a Trainee Solicitor, I do not have my own cases, but support other solicitors with their cases. I am training in a firm that specialises in civil liberties and focuses on taking cases against state agencies, including the police, prison and immigration authorities.

What is the most exciting thing about what you do?

The most exciting thing is knowing I am truly making a difference, which is the only reason I ever wanted to become a lawyer. The clients we represent are the most disenfranchised in society and being able to help them achieve vindication when their rights have been abused is truly humbling.

Based on your time and studies at Queen Mary, would you go back and put Queen Mary as your first choice on your UCAS application?

Yes, I definitely would! I had a fantastic time at Queen Mary – I made some amazing friends, really enjoyed my degree and have so many great memories of lunches at Mucci’s and Drapers!Photo of Rebecca Dooley in her QM Angels cheerleading uniform I also discovered my passion for cheerleading at Queen Mary, and was part of QM Angels for my second and third years! This is something I carried on after graduating and I am still cheering now, almost ten years later!

What advice would you give to prospective students who are hoping to get into Queen Mary via Clearing this year?

If you end up needing to use Clearing, don’t panic! Be calm, take your time to think of your options and be sure to only choose a course you will really enjoy! This will help you during any telephone interview you may have, as you will be able to show a passion for the subject.

I would also say, as cheesy at this may sound, to trust the process and believe that you ended up in Clearing for a reason. I was absolutely devasted when I didn’t end up where I had planned but I wouldn’t change one thing about how things went, and I am so happy I chose Queen Mary!

This profile was conducted by Alumni Engagement Coordinator, Nathalie Grey. If you would like to get in touch with Rebecca or engage her in your work, please contact Nathalie at n.grey@qmul.ac.uk.