From mentee to mentor

Declan Merrington

I had my first proper experience of university during the Supported Progression (SP) summer school in 2016. It was thanks to SP that I realised Durham was the university for me – and another SP event allowed me to decide that Hatfield was the college for me. Once I had finished my A Levels and secured my place at Durham, I was excited to start my Durham journey and get involved in college life!

Within the first few weeks, I had made some great friends, fully established myself in college life and knew I wanted to help give back to the University and college in a way to thank them for the opportunities SP had given me. It was a coincidence, then, that I received an email from my college senior tutor detailing a volunteering opportunity with DUCK (Durham University Charity Kommittee) to mentor Y12 students in order to help them in their own university journey. This was perfect for me – as a first-generation scholar, I knew exactly how helpful it is to have someone already at a university give advice and answer questions for you! Even better, part of the volunteering was at my old school and sixth form in Washington, Tyne and Wear.

That was in my first year. I have been doing school mentoring for three years now, two of which I was a lead mentor. It is something I am immensely proud of and could not have happened without Hatfield College. The mentoring system included activities like helping with revision techniques, exam questions, and essays, as well as more abstract things like explaining UCAS and personal statements and answering questions about university and college life. All of my mentees have said it has helped them decide whether university, as well as Durham, is right for them.

Sometimes I bump into my former mentees when visiting other colleges for socials. Often they say that a big part of why they eventually chose Durham was the mentoring scheme, which is both surreal and fantastic and makes me proud to be a student at Durham University. These experiences and opportunities are something that I thank the University for.

Find out more about our Supported Progression programme here.

To download our 2021 prospectus click here.

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Declan Merrington

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