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Rhea alexander

Mathematics student, University College London

 

And - Co-founder, UCL Women in STEM society

If you want to do something, just go for it.

What do you do?

As a maths student, I attend lectures and complete courseworks. Outside of my course, I do a lot of research into possible future careers where I can use my numerical skills, and so attend a lot of insight days and networking events to learn more about such careers and meet people in/looking to go into such careers.

I am the co-founder and treasurer of UCL Women in STEM society. As a part of the founding committee, I work with the rest of the committee to organise events, contact speakers, and keep our members informed of and motivated to pursue a career within STEM.

Why did you choose this field?

My realization that this was my dream degree subject came when I went to a Imperial university open day, and, at a loss of what subject talk to go to, decided on a whim to go to the maths department talk: while listening to the talk of what the degree would involve, what a potential student would get out of it, and what it could lead to (anything!), something clicked within me and I have not regretted my decision once so far.

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

"Self-confidence is something that can be worked on and built up gradually - don't be afraid."

In my first year at university, I ran to be elected as Treasurer of a university society I progressed beyond sending a cover letter, past the interview stage, and then gave a 5 minute speech to over 100 people in a lecture theatre. While I did not end up getting elected for that particular role, such an experience of public speaking is something I am incredibly proud of, and I know the younger, incredibly shy, very introverted me would not have ever dreamed possible for me to do.

Why do you love working in STEM?

"It pushes me intellectually and I love that."

I love working in STEM as a student because it uses my brain: I really have to think hard in lectures and to complete my coursework.

 

While I enjoy talking with and getting to know the incredibly different and varied people in my degree, I look forward to my moments sitting in a room full of people studying, listening to music, and working on my coursework alone – it is incredibly satisfying when I apply my knowledge to successfully complete a problem sheet.

Best advice for the next generation

I would tell them to pursue something that makes you think – that pushes you intellectually. Just go for something that you enjoy, are good at, and has good job prospects.

Role model 

Role models do not have to be famous people: many of my role models are my friends and family, whose demeanour/way of working inspires me.