Department of Modern Languages and Cultures

Kathryn Moore, Russian and History BA

Kathryn wearing a black top and smiling on a balcony overlooking an Estonian mediaeval town.
Kathryn is the 2021 winner of The First Generation Undergraduate of the Year Award. She talks to us about being the first in your family to go to university and making the most of her time here.

Being first in my family to go to university

"Are you sure that you want to go to university? Can you afford to study at university? Why do you partake in so many extra-curricular activities? These are just some of the questions I have repeatedly been asked by my friends, peers and teachers. It is demoralising to hear comments such as these and at times it has led me to question whether I deserve to be at university.

However, seeing just how hard-working my mum is has really inspired me to work towards achieving my aspirations."

Being a first generation university student, I have always had the mentality that I need to work twice as hard to ensure that I can take advantage of all the opportunities offered to me.

Winning The First Generation Undergraduate of the Year Award

"Recently I was awarded ‘The First Generation of the Year Award 2021’. My prize is an eight week internship with HSBC, which will commence later this summer, and a breakfast meeting with a senior manager in the company. TARGETjobs Undergraduate of the Year Awards is an annual competition aimed at finding the best undergraduates in the UK. Each award is partnered by a prominent graduate recruiter and this year the awards had more than 5,000 entries from 140 universities.

It’s definitely been a big eye-opener. I know about 70% of people shortlisted for the award were economics or maths students with financial knowledge, so I wasn’t sure banking would be open to someone doing my degree.

I am particularly honoured to have been selected as the winner of this award because it aims to champion social mobility, a cause which I am particularly passionate about as a result of my own experiences."

Winning this award is recognition that degrees in a range of subjects can open doors to different industries. It’s often about having strong transferrable skills and having the confidence to push past your comfort zone.

Being awarded a place on the Witty Entrepreneurial Scholarship

"The Witty Scholarship offers mentoring advice, advice on how to set up your own business, advice on how to support social enterprises and advice on different careers. 

Initially, I applied for ‘The Witty Scholarship’ because I felt that it would be an amazing opportunity to develop my entrepreneurial skillset, something which I would not have had the possibility to expand during my degree programme. 

I am now in my third year on the scholarship, and I am still learning new things! This year, I have participated in the SimVenture Challenge, Ingenuity20 and several of the Ingenuity Lab Roundtable events. I have really enjoyed the opportunity to meet and work with different Witty Scholars on a range of different activities." 

Learning Russian from scratch

"When I started learning Russian, I was a total beginner. Learning Russian has definitely been one of the hardest challenges that I have ever undertaken. In my first year, I was a bit overwhelmed with all the different grammar structures that I needed to learn. However, I think that the most rewarding thing about learning a language is seeing the progress that I have made in such a short space of time.

I am currently on my year abroad in Estonia. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19 I was unable to travel to Russia. However, the University of Nottingham has been really supportive and helped to organise an amazing Russian language course at Narva College, Estonia.

All my lecturers said that on my year abroad my language skills would improve so much and it’s true! Living in an immersive environment has allowed me to practice my Russian language skills daily. During my first semester, I was also lucky enough to be able to travel to different cities, such as Tallinn and Tartu and to a beautiful island called Hiiumaa." 

"My lecturers have been really helpful throughout the course of my degree. Rúben Leitão Serém and Vladimir Zoric have been so helpful, from writing references for me to all the advice that they have given me, I cannot thank them enough.

I also really like how small the Russian section is because it has allowed me to build relationships with all my lecturers and course mates. 

Russian and History is a very complementary degree. In History, I have had the opportunity to develop my essay writing skills and I have been able to utilise these skills during my Russian history modules. I am really looking forward to writing my dissertation where I can combine both my essay writing and Russian language skills."

Currently, I am exploring different career opportunities so I can develop my own knowledge of different sectors and ascertain what career I would like to focus on after university. 

Getting the most out of my university experience

"I love being busy and that is why I try to partake in so many different extra-curricular activities. For the last three years, I have been a member of the History Society, and last year I decided to join the Fencing Society as a beginner. Both societies have provided me with an opportunity to meet students from a range of different courses.

I have been involved in three of the University’s employability activities – the Nottingham Spring Internships Scheme; the Digital Marketing Academy, and the Nottingham Advantage Award – undertaking many of the related modules has given me an unparalleled insight into working at SMEs, global corporations such as Boots and charitable firms, honed my foreign language and leadership skills as well as providing the opportunity to teach history and Russian in local primary schools."

Participating in a range of different societies and schemes has allowed me to develop my skill set and I have had the opportunity to gain qualifications and explore different interests.

kathryn moore climbing vertical rockface outdoors


"Outside of university, I partake in the East Midlands Universities Air Squadron. (EMUAS). Through EMUAS, I have had the opportunity to learn how to fly with military qualified flying instructors, partake in adventurous training expeditions and gain a unique insight into the Royal Air Force.

I am also a telephone befriender for Age UK Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, which has allowed me to build links with the local community. 

Every opportunity that I have partaken in has been amazing and I am really excited to see what the future holds."

Playing a part in the Covid vaccination scheme

"During the first Covid-19 lockdown, I trained to become a ‘Dual Trained 111/999 Call Assessor'. At times, this role was extremely challenging, but it was also very rewarding.

Between my first and second semesters in Estonia, I received an email inviting me to help with the Covid-19 vaccination programme. I have been responsible for providing administrative support at GP practices and mass vaccination sites. It has been so lovely to chat to everyone who has come into and been working at the vaccination clinics. The atmosphere has been amazing and it is definitely an experience that I will remember forever." 

Kathryn's advice for freshers

  • Make the most of your first year - you'll get the chance to try a lot of different things
  • Definitely go to the Freshers' Fair and just see what's out there
  • Keep an eye on your emails - lots of the opportunities I have taken up came via email and I know a lot of people just delete them!
  • Take advantage of your personal tutor and use your lecturers' office hours because they are really helpful to help you understand your feedback. Then that helps improve your grades later on.

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