"No matter which school you choose, you will get a key. But the key for this school will open more doors, even though you will have to make new friends."
This was what my mother said to me, sat in my home whilst I held the acceptance letter to Denmark Road in my hand. To go to my local school, with my friends, or to take the more daunting option of travelling daily to a school fifteen miles away.
Fitting, in hindsight, that she believed even at the age of ten I should be offered the freedom and opportunity to make my own decisions about my future; as this was the exact ethos I would ultimately encounter at my new school.
And, for the record, over a decade later there is no doubt in my mind that I made the right decision.
I attended Denmark Road between 2001 and 2009, choosing to also study my A-Levels in the 6th Form at the school. During my time at the school the staff were nothing but supportive.
I feel a special mention absolutely must go to Mrs Bowman and to the Design Tech. faculty; the former for the wonderful memories playing music and for having the patience of a saint for how boisterous I could be at times, and the latter for introducing me to and supporting me in the discipline I ultimately pursued as my career.
The amount of clubs and activities available to the students was vast, and I was involved with several! Working alongside the staff in the library I ran an Origami club every Friday lunchtime, and I also played in the school concert band. So many memories of running around the cloisters at Gloucester Cathedral! Not to mention the weekends spent stumbling around the wilderness as part of the Duke of Edinburgh award.
I performed well in both my GCSEs and A-levels, and I set my sights on university. The school provided guidance and advice every step of the way and I received offers across the board for all of my choices. After a great deal of deliberation I settled on Loughborough University and in 2009 I set off to study Industrial Design & Technology at its renowned design school.
Whilst being a woman in STEM is absolutely improving, we are certainly still in the extreme minority in many areas. To succeed you need to have assurance in yourself, and I am eternally glad that not only did Denmark Road inspire me to have the confidence to pursue my career but that it felt normalised I would be interested in a non-traditional field.
The school certainly provided me with a fantastic education but the softer skills I picked up along the way enabling me to step forward confidently is something I have come to value as greatly.
After graduating Loughborough in 2012, I entered the workforce via a graduate scheme for a large engineering company located in London. I used this as an opportunity to build up work experience and then 3 years later I made the jump into the engineering sector where I have ultimately built my career; retail and exhibition design for the concept to manufacture stage.
Currently I live all the way up north near Newcastle, but over the past decade I have been involved with design projects for large scale global promotions for companies such as Nestle, Dyson and Electrolux (and a whole lot of alcohol brands!).
Local to the UK I've been responsible for designing furniture for B&Q, Tesco, Co-Op, Asda, Dixons and more recently I was responsible for the entire interior of the new Amazon Go stores that are opening up across London.
I'm excited for the future and what opportunities it brings, but I wouldn't have got there without the support from the things in my past and that very much includes the staff at Denmark Road.