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Humanities

Jenny Mejia-Cevallos BA History

Jenny Mejia-Cevallos's Photo

Hi, I'm Jenny Mejia-Cevallos and I studied BA History within Humanities at the University of Southampton.

Throughout my two years here I have found myself studying Spanish, Iranian and British history which has expanded my knowledge and awareness of current affairs. I think that it’s really rewarding when you feel as though you have a grasp on a whole period of history, that you can link to the present.

Where were you born? Where did you grow up?

I was born in Ecuador, South America, but came to London at a young age and have lived in the borough of Brent ever since.

What made you decide to study history?

Having to quickly choose what subject to do at university in a very short amount of time was stressful. I had been to many taster courses and gone to see a few universities but I was still unsure about what I wanted to do.

Since secondary school I had always enjoyed history and always tried to do my best at it. When I spoke to my teachers about taking history as a subject they said it was a strong subject, recognised by employers as well as opening many doors to different career paths such as law, business, media and teaching. I guess I preferred to do a subject that I really enjoyed rather a subject that I would dislike and regret taking.

Why did you choose to study at Southampton?

When I came to Southampton, despite it being a rainy day, I got a really good vibe from it. When I spoke to all the teachers and students they were all really helpful and friendly and they made me feel a part of the University. Another reason was because at A level I had chosen to study Spanish, but many universities considered this as my mother tongue making it difficult for me to choose which university to go to. Southampton, being one of the top universities in the UK said it wasn’t a problem and that I could apply.

Tell us more about the areas of history that you are now specialising in

What also attracted me to Southampton was the diversity of its history modules; I wanted to study areas of history that I had not previously touched upon- away from Nazi Germany, Cold War and American Civil Rights. Throughout my two years here I have found myself studying Spanish, Iranian and British history which has expanded my knowledge and awareness of current affairs. I think that it’s really rewarding when you feel as though you have a grasp on a whole period of history, that you can link to the present.

Are you enjoying your studies? What do you like most about your degree programme?

I am enjoying every moment of it. It’s not easy being a history undergraduate and it was definitely a jump for me in comparison to A level and GCSE. The work is challenging at times but very rewarding because of the in-depth research and analysis involved. One aspect of my history degree which I appreciate is the Group Project as it has put into perspective many of my strengths and weaknesses and has also shown me skills that I never knew I had. It’s great to know that history is not only about writing essays; it’s also a lot more interactive and about engaging with the public, something employers would value.

Do you get on well with the academic staff?

All of the staff at Southampton are really nice and are always willing to help you at any moment in time, even during the holidays. They always give useful advice and materials for you to use in essays and exams. At university you don’t have to stick to 'Sir' or 'Miss', which at first I found strange because it was what I was used to calling my teachers - so there’s always a good relationship and understanding between you and lecturers.

What’s the best thing about living and studying in Southampton?

Southampton is a very student orientated place, having both the University of Southampton and Southampton Solent. The diversity and social life here is really good and you get to meet and know a whole range of people. I guess the best thing about living and studying here is the independence you wouldn’t necessarily gain at home – you find yourself being more conscious and responsible for your actions and way of living.

How were the first few weeks at uni? Was it easy to settle into your studies, make friends etc?

Coming from London and never being away from my family for more than a week, I knew living in Southampton was going to be challenging and beyond my comfort zone, but living in halls and getting to know so many students that were in the same position as me made me feel at home, easily adapting. I was able to be more independent and responsible living on my own.

Are you involved in any clubs, societies etc?

When I started uni I joined every club available from skydiving to ballroom and Latin dancing, which was a great way to meet new people and get active. I recently joined the History Netball team which is great fun.

What are you planning to do after graduating? What steps have you taken towards achieving this?

After graduation I aim to apply for a GDL to become a solicitor. I’ve been to a few open days for the College of Law and over the summer I did a week internship at Furnival law chambers to get me thinking of what areas of law I would be interested in taking and listen to the advice barristers themselves had to give.

Do you have any advice for people considering studying history at Southampton?

My advice would be to not be scared or nervous - just enjoy, especially Freshers' Week, since it’s the only week where you’ll be able to party and not worry about essays or exams. Get involved with as many societies as you can to meet as many people because then you’ll find yourself settling in more easily. Talk with your teachers about anything you don’t understand or feel worried about.

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