We’re pleased to announce our latest speakers to the Seren 2018: Above and Beyond annual conference taking place on 4-6 December.

Seren 2018: Above and Beyond Speakers – Students’ Programme:
Rebecca Watkins – Talent Attraction Manager, Dwr Cymru Welsh Water – Beyond Seren: Engaging with Employers

Rebecca Watkins

An HR professional with valuable experience and insight into employer requirements for recruitment including apprentice and graduate recruitment. My current role focuses on what our business wants in terms of talent, particularly in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.

Random, Interesting Facts – I appeared as an audience member on “The Saturday Show” (a very old kids tv programme). I have sung in choirs and held the lead female part in my School’s take on “Little Shop of Horrors”. I have also received Classical singing training as part of my performing arts background – I’m not very good though.


Luke Healey – Freelance Tutor – Language and Culture Masterclass – Art History and Visual Studies: How to talk about Art, not-Art, and the difference between the two


I completed my PhD in Art History and Visual Studies at the University of Manchester in Winter 2017, submitting a thesis entitled “The Art of Football: Visual Culture and the Beautiful Game, 1992-2016”. Chapters from this thesis looking at subjects ranging from Zinedine Zidane to animated GIFs to tabloid treatments of “diving” have been published in a variety of places, including Cabinet magazine and two academic anthologies.

I have taught and arranged conferences and seminar programmes on a range of topics relating to art, literature and cultural theory, including tutoring on the Brilliant Club Scholars Programme module “Through the Looking Glass: An Introduction to Literary Theory” in 2016-17. I am currently busy on a number of essays about the relationship between sport and The Arts, in addition to working as a freelance tutor for a variety of companies including UKCN, an organisation that advises and assists international students in applying for postgraduate positions at prestigious UK universities.

Liam Rahman – Director & Co-Founder, E-Qual Education – Studying in the US – Studying overseas as an undergraduate / Career panel / International opportunities


A native of South Wales, Liam studied at Yale University (USA) and Yale-NUS College (Singapore), majoring in Philosophy, Politics & Economics (PPE). Prior to returning to Wales to further develop E-Qual, Liam also worked in investment management at BW Group and Goldman Sachs. Liam is a member of Yale’s Alumni Schools Committee (ASC), representing the university’s admissions and outreach efforts in the UK. An avid supporter of the Seren Network, in early 2018, Liam worked with Seren to establish the network’s partnership with the Yale Young Global Scholars (YYGS) summer programme.

Lauren Hughes – Higher Education Advisor, University of East Anglia – Effective Study Skills

I am a qualified teacher with three years of teaching experience. For the last two years, I have been working at the University of East Anglia as a Higher Education Adviser. I work with sixth form students in Kent, Hampshire, Isle of Wight, West Sussex, East Sussex and Dorset but also travel to other parts of the UK now and again. I speak to students about finance, choosing a university and the right course, opportunities at

university, studying abroad and how to write personal statements.

Dr Hannah Hodgkiss-Geere – Senior Lecturer in Small Animal Cardiology/Director of Undergraduate Recruitment, Institute of Veterinary Science, University of Liverpool – Applying to veterinary medicine and what can I do with a veterinary degree (and not just clinical practice!)

I am a veterinary surgeon who has been practising for over 12 years. During this time I have worked in farm animal and small animal general practice and am now a European Specialist in Small Animal Cardiology,

working in a University and actively teaching veterinary students. I have also worked in scientific research and have an MSc in virology, a PhD in cardiac stem cells and have ongoing research in both stem cells and

cardiac diseases. I also now am the Director of Undergraduate Recruitment for the University of Liverpool Vet School and am now actively engaging with students who may want to be vets, but also with students who may not have considered veterinary science as a possible degree option.

Angharad Thomas – Head of Strategy and Insights, Golley Slater Cardiff – Applying for the creative industries / Beyond Seren: engaging with employers


Angharad is originally from Gowerton in Swansea. She went to Ysgol Gyfun Gwyr, a Welsh medium comprehensive in Swansea. After school, she went on to study Modern Languages at Cambridge University – focusing on Italian and French. Her first graduate job was at DDB London (now Adam&EveDDB) a creative agency in Paddington. Though she started her advertising career in account management, she then went on to be a strategist (or planner) and worked at top global agencies including Wieden & Kennedy and WCRS. During her time in London, she worked on campaigns that have won awards at Cannes, DNADs, Creative Circle as well as IPA and APG effectiveness awards.

Though London was great fun, the pull of Wales was strong. Last year, she moved back to Wales to work at integrated creative agency Golley Slater, where she is now Head of Strategy and Insights. She works across all communications – from media, PR to, big TV ads. She says it’s great to be working at home in Wales, after being away for so long.

Dr Mandy Peffers – Wellcome Trust Clinical Intermediate Fellow/ Senior Lecturer – University of Liverpool – Getting into veterinary medicine


After a degree in Animal Science at the University of Leeds, I undertook my veterinary degree at The Royal Veterinary College, University of London and qualified as a veterinarian in 1995. I then spent 11 years in industry and private practice before going back to do a PhD supported by the Wellcome Trust. I first undertook a one-year Wellcome Trust Veterinary Research Entry Fellowship before becoming a Wellcome Trust Integrated Veterinary Training Fellow. The first three years of funding were for a PhD entitle ‘Proteomic and transcriptomic signatures of cartilage ageing and disease’. The next three years of the fellowship were in a post-doctoral role in which I studied ‘A Systems Biology Approach to Musculoskeletal Ageing’. I am currently a Wellcome Trust Clinical Intermediate Fellow studying ‘The role of small nucleolar RNAs in cartilage ageing and disease’. My research group consists of four PhD students and a research assistant.

I am a member of the ‘Admissions and Widening Participation Committee of the University of Liverpool Veterinary School’. As part of this role I interview potential vet students and assess the work experience documentation undertaken by prospective students. I am also veterinary undergraduate intercalation co-ordinator.

David Willock – Reader – School of Chemistry, Cardiff University – Natural Sciences with a focus on Chemistry and the overlap of Physics and Chemistry.


The research area will involve looking at the way that molecules can adsorb and react on solid surfaces.

My first degree is in Physics with Electronics from Salford University. I then moved to London to the Physics department of Queen Mary College, University of London to study photoconductivity in polymer materials. As part of that work I became interested in computer simulation applied to materials and after gaining the PhD moved to University College London to apply modelling to organic crystal structures in the Department of Chemistry there. Ever since I have worked in the application of computational techniques to chemical problems and am now working in Cardiff using theoretical chemistry to understand practical catalysis. In particular how surfaces can activate molecules to build new chemical structures.

Professor Dylan E. Jones – Deputy Vice Chancellor and Dean of the Athrofa: Institute of Education, University of Wales, Trinity St David – Maximising your Bilingualism


Prof Dylan E. Jones is Deputy Vice Chancellor and Dean of the Athrofa: Institute of Education at the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David (UWTSD)
Dylan ,of Bryncrug, Tywyn, Gwynedd was also Chair of the Welsh Government School Practitioner Panel, established to advise the Minister and support in the development of education policy in Wales. He was also a member of the Qualifications Wales Shadow Board.

Mark Llewelyn Evans – Opera Singer / Entrepreneur / Author / Creative Director, ABC of Opera Ltd – Applying for the Creative Industries


Welsh baritone Mark studied at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and the National Opera Studio, London and has worked alongside many major names in the entertainment industry including Katherine Jenkins, Alfie Boe, David Blaine, Rob Brydon, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. Mark`s career has taken him throughout the world from singing title roles in international opera houses, his one man show to 1,000`s, a blockbuster

movie as well as the ‘Bread of Heaven’ for The Six Nations Rugby tournament at the Millennium Stadium,

to 75,000. Mark’s debut album ‘Let the Light in’ topped the UK classical charts. He then released a

single, ‘Tell my Father’ performing with the Band of the Welsh Guards which became a number one in the

UK, benefitting the Welsh Guards Afghanistan Appeal. Mark was very honoured to be part of this appeal.

Mark is artistic director for Opera Sark, as well as Founder and Creative Director of ABC of Opera Ltd, an

educational project that delivers cross curriculum workshops introducing children to the wonder of

classical music. To date ABC of Opera has delivered to over 150 school with their first book of four “The

Academy of Barmy Composer” being publish in 2019 with a stage show to follow.

Ffion Bailey – Education Liaison Officer, University of St Andrews – Studying in the UK vs Studying Abroad

Originally from North Wales, I attended my local Welsh language schools before studying History at The University of St Andrews. Having enjoyed my time there so much, I decided to stay and started working for Admissions. The University of St Andrews combines the very best of our six centuries of history with contemporary culture and outstanding teaching. It is a busy and close-knit community which brings together

people from all over the world. We have been voted 1st for Student Satisfaction in the UK (National Student Survey 2018) and are ranked 1st in Scotland and 3rd in the UK in the league tables (The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2019, The Guardian University Guide 2019). If you have any questions about St Andrews, please do ask.

I am contributing to the ‘Studying in the UK vs Studying Abroad’ talk in order to explain the flexibility and breadth of the Scottish degree structure and shine a light on all the great universities that students have to choose from. The choice of which university to attend is a personal one to you, and it is important that you study and live at an institution where you will be happy. My aim is to give you all the information you need to make that choice.

Seren 2018: Above and Beyond Speakers – Professionals’ Programme:
Mitchell Purnell – Area Manager, Unifrog Education Ltd – Enriching MAT Learners


At Unifrog, we believe that destinations – where students end up after school – is even more important than their academic performance. We partner with almost 1500 schools worldwide, to support students to progress into the best opportunity for them.

We do this by providing a one-stop-shop where students can explore their interests, then find and successfully apply for their best next step after school. We also enable the staff to manage the progression process effectively.

Luke Olsson and Michael Grugan – Graduate Teaching Assistant, York St John University – Student Health and Wellbeing- Perfectionism and Mental Health among Students

olsson MGrugan-Staff-Profile

Luke and Michael are currently doctoral researchers at York St John University where they are also members of the Motivation, Performance, and Well-being (MPAW) research group. This group is amongst the largest in the world dedicated to examining the causes and consequences of being perfectionistic. Over the past 4 years, the group has produced over 80 peer-reviewed publications in leading international journal and presented on the topic of perfectionism around the world. Their research has been funded by various organisations including the Wellcome Trust, The Society for Education, Music and Psychology Research, The Harold Hyam Wingate Foundation, and the European Union (Framework 7).

Anna Burchfiel – WP and UG Recruitment Officer, University of Bristol – The UCAS Process – an insight into the timeline and process of applying to university, and advice on what to do on A Level Results Day


Anna has been working in higher education for the past five years, assisting young people from a wide variety of backgrounds to access elite universities, degree subjects and professions. Anna has run

Confirmation and Clearing activities at a Russell Group university, and has a thorough understanding of UK university admissions.

More speakers to be announced soon…

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