Emily Cowlishaw, Class of 2014 | I’m starting my Master’s degree!

Emily-Cowlishaw_gradpicIt’s not rejection it’s motivation! The most unrealistic thing I thought would ever happen to me is about to begin… I am starting my Master’s Degree! Three years ago I was worrying if I had even made the grades to get into University (see my previous blog post for this journey!) and now I am sitting here with a First Class Honours degree and a scholarship to study for my Master’s.  [P.S Graduation was absolutely beautiful… as you can imagine! Here’s a selfie of my in utter shock I actually got through it all.]

What?! When did this all happen?  This story genuinely begins back in Level One Media Production where I applied to be a part of the Moorhead Exchange programme the University has with America at MSUM. I worked full time prior to University alongside my A Levels to fund this potential trip (I like to plan ahead!). I went into the interview as a shy and lazy fresher. I came out upset and angry at the prospect that I had not done enough, as there were limited spaces and a high number of applicants. And I was absolutely correct. That trip was not to be.

While I knew Sarah Barrow (Head of LSFM) and Tom Nicholls (U.S. Exchange Co-ordinator) had an extremely tough decision, I knew in my heart I was never ever going to be selected – what had I done to make them want to pick me? The answer was absolutely nothing. And from that point I knew that if I wanted to achieve anything I really wanted in life, I needed to work hard to prove to them that I can do it. That moment of utter devastation receiving a ‘no’ really was the motivation I needed to make sure I did everything in my power to have the potential to achieve anything I wanted. And obviously since then (although people think nothing ever goes wrong for me), I have still had rejections for things that have meant the world to me but instead of channelling rejection in a negative downward spiral, I see it in a positive light even if it is just to prove somebody wrong! My mum always tells me that rejection just means there is something better out there for you… and trust me she is never wrong.

During my time as an Undergraduate I made sure I was involved in as many things that interested me as possible. Brayford Radio, Student Ambassador and Engine Shed Tech Crew are just to name a few things. Through involving myself in lots of extra curricular work I have improved my skills set, client base, friendship groups, ideas… you name it, extra curricular involvement has been the thing that has stood me apart.

However, I believe the thing that really let me down in that initial interview was my self-confidence. I was shy, timid and honestly because I held so much self doubt, I believe nobody would have believed I could have coped in another city, never mind another country. Every single thing I have done has gradually increased those personal skills that sometimes we all forget about, the thing that actually stands you apart from a crowd! Since then, I have gone on to give guest lectures to 100’s of students and talked in front of applicant’s parents on open days. I am sure 3 years ago nobody would have believed I could do that.

I went on to get recognition for all of my work and achieved two awards: the Students’ Union Award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Media’ and the Graduate Award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to the School of Media’.







These awards then put me in good stead for the scholarships that were only released this year, and to my surprise I was awarded! Without this rejection I don’t think I would have been in the position I am today – in my hand a scholarship to study for something I always dreamed of. It would have taken me years if not decades to save enough to do a Master’s, so this is an actual dream come true.

While I am so grateful for this opportunity given to me by the College of Arts, it is actually the Class of 2014 and anybody I have ever worked with in my time at University that deserve the full credit. So many people deserve recognition for their work and while they I am extremely fortunate to have received extensive recognition for my work. I want you to all know these awards are for you. You all earned it as much as me if not more! To my talented friends and colleagues – this would not have been possible without you.  Sarah Barrow told me that ‘no’ made me who I am today. And she is completely right. Thank you so much.