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


Mike Nicholson – Director of Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach, University of Bath – Supporting Competitive Applications

Mike joined the University of Bath in October 2014, having previously worked as Director of Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach at the University of Oxford (2006-2014) and Head of Undergraduate Admissions and Student Recruitment at the University of Essex (1998-2006). Mike heads the team responsible for managing undergraduate student admissions, student recruitment (UK and international), funding guidance, access and widening participation, and learning partnerships. Mike is currently on the AQA Council, and co-Chaired the Social Mobility Practitioners’ Group established by Universities UK to advise the Minister for Higher Education on supporting progression from under-represented groups in society in 2016. He has recently joined the Evaluation Group for the Welsh Government’s Seren Programme. He was UK Chair of the Higher Education Liaison Officers’ Association from 2014-2017 and served as a member of the UCAS Council until January 2017. He represented English universities on the Welsh Qualifications Reform stakeholder group, and was involved in the SPA National Expert Think Tank on Qualifications Reform in 2015. Mike graduated in 1990 from the University of Sheffield with a degree in English and History. He also attended Allegheny College, Pennsylvania for a year as an exchange student.

Kirstie Ralph – Outreach Officer, University of Nottingham – University Panel Discussion

Kirstie Ralph

I’ve worked in HE for 4 years in several roles, including Student Recruitment, Admissions and most recently Widening Participation so have a broad knowledge of the University sector and practice in advising students in different settings. Until earlier this year I was working in an outreach capacity at the University of Cambridge, which had its own unique opportunities and challenges. I have since moved to Nottingham to concentrate more on project work, including the Brilliant Club and working on a new access initiative for White Working Class boys.

Carolyn Goodwin – Education Consultant, Carolyn Goodwin Consulting – Modern Foreign Languages

Carolyn Goodwin

Former Primary Languages Adviser for Wales, Carolyn is currently Freelance, running training for courses in primary methodology. With 15 years secondary teaching experience, Carolyn also lived and taught abroad and is passionate about encouraging young people to “think global”.

Your Global Future – what next after the languages classroom? Whether you have ever studied languages or opted for a different route, this session will explore the range of exciting skills and opportunities and experiences that you may not realise are waiting for you. Don’t just study your subject, live your subject.

Alice Else – Student Recruitment Officer, London School of Economics and Political Science – Supporting Competitive Applications

Alice Else is a Student Recruitment Officer in LSE’s Student Marketing and Recruitment team. She is responsible for recruitment from the UK and has particular responsibility for liaison with schools and colleges in the UK, including organisation of LSE’s Advising the Advisers conference for heads of sixth form and higher education advisers. Alice regularly visits schools and colleges in the UK to talk with prospective students, their parents and advisers covering all issues regarding applying to and studying at LSE.

Anna Williams – Schools Liaison and Marketing Officer, Bangor University – University Panel Discussion

Anna Williams

Responsible for providing a service to schools and colleges throughout Wales, giving guidance and support to prospective university students. Other responsibilities include marketing through the medium of Welsh and various events such as the Welsh Bacc conferences, Bangor University’s presence at the National Eisteddfod and the Urdd Eisteddfod. She is also responsible for the continued partnership with the North Wales Seren hubs (Anglesey & Gwynedd, Conwy & Denbighshire, and Flint & Wrexham), and attends recruitment events across the UK.

Louise Crane – Mezzo soprano and singing teacher – Applying for the Creative Industries/University Panel Discussion


Since making her debuts at Glyndebourne, English National Opera and the Belgium Royal Opera, Louise Crane has established herself as one of this country’s most sought-after and versatile mezzo sopranos.

She gained AGSM Diploma at the Guildhall, and subsequently won awards from Clonter Opera Trust and the Peter Moores Foundation, as well as a college scholarship, to study at the RNCM. After a season with Glyndebourne Festival Opera Lo won the Peter Stuyvestant Foundation Scholarship to the National Opera Studio where she completed her studies.

Her many & varied roles have included Mother Goose The Rake’s Progress  l; Giovanna Ernani, Ismene The Siege of Corinth, Death Le Rossignol and Smaragdi Francesca da,The Magic Flute and Mistress Quickly Falstaff ; Marcellina The Marriage of Figaro ; Flora La, Jocasta Oedipus Rex and Filipyevna Eugene Onegin ; The Sorceress Dido and Aeneas . She made her debut with English National Opera in Jonathan Harvey’s Inquest of Love and subsequently took part in the opera’s revival at the Brussels Opera.

Increasingly in demand for concert engagements at home and abroad, Louise has broadcast Rossini’s Stabat Mater with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, appeared on Friday Night is Music Night and toured with the Basque Symphony Orchestra of Spain and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and has recorded extracts from Handel’s Messiah for Classic FM and performed the same work in Britain and the Far East. Louise was also a member of the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company and  toured with the company in Britain and the USA and has had a long and regular association with Opera della Luna, Louise appears as a guest artist with Impropera, giving regular performances in London’s West End and King’s Place as well as at the Edinburgh Fringe.

She is a singing teacher at the Birmingham Conservatoire and also runs vocal workshops for choirs and trains business people in the art of presentation and use of vocal skills.

Louise is currently playing Juno Orpheus in the Underworld for Opera della Luna at the Iford Arts Music Festival, and on tour in the UK.

Steve Minney – Head of Undergraduate Recruitment, Swansea University – Supporting Competitive Applications

Steve Minney headshot.jpg

Steve has worked in the fields of student recruitment, admissions policy and widening participation for over two decades within higher education. A former chair of HELOA Wales and experienced school governor, Steve is particularly interested in character education and changing definitions of successful learning.

Rhiannon Jenkins – NACE Associate, Wales – Sharing Research and Best Practice

Rhiannon Jenkins is NACE Associate, Wales. In this role she focuses on delivery and networking, building on the extensive work that NACE has developed in Wales. A bilingual speaker, Rhiannon works within various educational settings, delivering consultancy work, CPD and INSET days whilst also assisting on the promotion of the NACE Challenge Development Programme throughout Wales.

She has held positions as a deputy head, advisory teacher (Welsh and English) and a university lecturer in all aspects of literacy. Having contributed to a number of national initiatives relating to Welsh-medium provision, she is currently the Welsh first language subject specialist for Welsh Government. She has taught in the Welsh-medium sector throughout her teaching career, and has worked throughout Wales as an independent trainer and consultant.

Rhiannon was a key player in the Welsh medium provision of the Pisa Intervention Project that disseminated quality teaching practice across Wales. She was also instrumental in developing the elements and aspects of the Literacy and Numeracy Framework in Welsh. She commissions and monitors Welsh medium resources for schools for the Welsh Government. In addition, she has worked as an independent external mentor for newly qualified teachers (primary and secondary).

Dr Jo Marchant – Head of Widening Participation at King’s College London – University Panel Discussion

Dr Jo Marchant.jpg

Jo Marchant is Head of Widening Participation (KS3) at King’s College London. Previously, Jo worked for IntoUniversity where she helped set up a learning centre in Brighton. Prior to that she lectured in History at the University of Westminster. Jo studied History at LSE and completed a PhD in Victorian London at the Institute of Historical Research.



Vicky Speers – Graduate Ambassador, University of York – Adjusting to University Life

Vicky Spears

I’m a recent graduate from the University of York, graduating with a 2:1 degree in Biology specialising in Ecology, with a focus on plant and soil interactions. My degree provided the opportunity to take part in fieldwork and also large independent projects in a research lab. At university I worked part-time as a student ambassador getting involved in a number of student recruitment and widening participation events which inspired me to take up the position of Graduate Ambassador this year. I was also involved in a number of societies and volunteering programmes while at University which were a great way to meet people and enhanced my university experience greatly.

I grew up outside a small rural village in Northern Ireland moving to York for my studies. This was a large step for me and required time for me to adjust, not only to my new student life living with strangers and a completely new learning technique, but also living in a new country with many differences to my home. This proved to be a very positive experience and helped me to develop my confidence and independence greatly.

Georgina Taylor – Seren Network Ambassador, Theology and Philosophy Student, Cambridge University – Opening Student Keynote

My name is Georgina Taylor and I was part of the Bridgend Seren Network hub! I am currently in my first year studying Theology and Philosophy. I am a member of Selwyn College at the University of Cambridge. For my A Levels, I studied English Literature, Religious Studies, Geography and the Welsh Baccalaureate. The Seren Network helped me immensely with the application process for University. In the future, I hope to work in the either the charity sector or a Sixth Form College.

Iona Wyn Jones – WP University Preparation Team Intern, University of Bath – Adjusting to University Life

Iona Wyn Jones.jpg

I am an intern in the Widening Participation team at the University of Bath. I moved to Bath in 2014 from Snowdonia to study biology. Following the completion of my undergraduate degree, I completed an MSc in Biotechnology at the University of Nottingham. I aspire to use my passion for learning and education to help others reach their full potential.

Marie-Teresa Vander Sande, Program Director, MIT – MIT Session, Opening Address

Marie-Teresa Vander Sande has had extensive experience in the MIT Industrial Liaison Program working with companies in a variety of industrial sectors. From 1985-1987, Marie served a large portfolio of both U.S. and Japanese companies, focusing on the materials and manufacturing sectors. Marie rejoined MIT in October 1994 to work with client companies in the electronics and communications sectors. From July 1997 to June 1999, Marie served as Manager of Communications in the MIT Office of Corporate Relations, where she oversaw the ILP conference series, The MIT Report, and other information products and services. From June 1999- May 2010, Marie resumed working with corporate clients in both Europe and the US through the MIT Industrial Liaison Program. She has recently rejoined the MIT Office of Corporate Relations as a Senior Industrial Liaison Officer.

Marie’s industry and consulting background is both rich and varied. She worked at GE Aircraft Engines in Lynn, Massachusetts, as a Materials Engineer; at Arthur D. Little, Inc. as a professional staff member in the Materials Group; and for Millipore Corporation, managing the market research function in the Strategic Planning Group. In addition, Marie opened the US office for a small French consulting firm and has worked both as an independent consultant, performing marketing studies and technology assessments, and as a freelance writer, producing technology overviews and advertorials. During her most recent hiatus from MIT, Marie wrote several articles for the MIT TechInsider and worked as a consultant to Reykjavik University on developing graduate engineering programs. From January 2009 to June 2010, she served as the Executive Assistant to the Provost at Reykjavik University in Iceland.

Tomos Wood – Engineering Student, University of Cambridge – Opening Student Keynote

I am a second-year engineering student at Queens’ College, the University of Cambridge. I live in Anglesey and speak welsh fluently. I attended Ysgol Tryfan, Bangor, and went through the Seren Network experience during sixth form. I studied Maths, Further Maths, Chemistry, Physics and the Welsh Bac at A-level and am happy to answer any questions you may have on life as a STEM-subject student.

Peter Redshaw – Graduate Ambassador, University of York – Getting Career Ready

Peter Redshaw

I’m a recent law graduate from the University of York, graduating in Law with a Year Abroad (Hong Kong). I graduated with a first class degree from the Law School and ranked second in my cohort.

I’ve carried out extensive careers preparation during all four years at university, both with the assistance of the university and arranged independently. I’ve taken part in approximately 8 internships during my time at university, equating to roughly 3 months’ worth of practical experience. All my internships were directed toward law as that was the career I was interested in at the time. I was even fortunate enough to carry out work experience while studying in Hong Kong.

While at university I also worked as a student ambassador, working in Student Recruitment and Widening Participation at a variety of events. It was this part-time work which encouraged me to take up my current

role at the university.

In terms of next steps, I will be moving to work for a start-up Bioinformatics company in Cambridge next year. This career move away from law was a result of my work experience enabling me to recognise my own strengths as well as better understanding as my own interests.

Joseph Phillips – Student, St John Baptist Church in Wales School – Opening: Student Keynote

Joseph Phillips

I am 18 years old from Aberdare, some of many hobbies include; mountain biking, motocross and supporting my local rugby team. In addition to this I am also a volunteer for the Welsh Ambulance. I am currently studying Maths, Physics, Geography and Welsh Baccalaureate at A Level with a hope to study mechanical engineering at university. My interest in this field has only been enhanced the several opportunities I have been presented with, including; Yale Young Global Scholars, an introductory course with the Open University, UNIQ summer school, the Step Up Plus programme and work experience. From each of the above I have improved many skills which will aid me, given I am successful in attaining a career in the engineering industry.

Lucy Nottingham – Education Adviser, University of East Anglia – Effective Study Skills

Lucy Nottingham

An internationally renowned university based on a distinctive and attractive campus, in the historic city of Norwich, University of East Anglia pride themselves on the excellent academic, social and cultural facilities which we offer to over 15,000 students. UEA is a UK top 15 university, ranked 15th by The Times Good University Guide 2019 and 14th by The Complete University Guide 2019. Lucy has worked for the University for almost 10 years supporting students to choose the right university, and make their applications for Higher Education.

Tom Long – Student, Haverfordwest High School – Opening: Student Keynote

Tom Long head shot.jpg

I’m a year 13 student from Pembrokeshire studying Chemistry, Physics and Maths & Further Maths. Last summer I went on the Seren-Yale YYGS summer school and it opened my eyes to the opportunities that are available to Welsh students. I have since applied to Yale and I’m awaiting their decision. In the conference I’ll be talking about the opportunities available to students and why they shouldn’t hesitate in making the most of them.

Professor Peredur Lynch – Professor in Welsh & Medieval Literature, Prifysgol Bangor University – Maximising your Bilingualism

Prof Peredur Lynch

Professor Peredur Lynch is a prominent Welsh academic and he has worked in the higher education sector since 1985. At present he is a Professor in the School of Welsh at Bangor University and as a Celtic scholar he also regularly visits universities in north America and mainland Europe.

Ben Lund-Conlon – Access Officer (Post-16), UCL – University Panel Discussion

Ben L-C headshot

Having grown up in rural Devon, I moved to London for university and never looked back. Since graduating I have worked in school liaison, university outreach and widening participation both for a small subject specialist institution and a large multidisciplinary university, UCL. I have coordinated subject-specific masterclasses and conferences, summer schools with a focus on graduate careers, and I particularly enjoy hosting workshops for students writing their personal statements. I am now UCL’s primary contact regarding the national Realising Opportunities programme.

Owain Williams – Student, Coleg Cambria Yale – Studying in the US

Owain Williams

Hi, my name is Owain Williams, from Wrexham’s Coleg Cambria Yale, and I study A levels in maths, further maths, chemistry and physics. Last summer, I had the pretty special opportunity to go to the Frontiers of Science and Technology course at Yale University as part of the Yale Young Global Scholars Program. It was a once in a lifetime experience, and fully funded courtesy of the SEREN Network. There, I learnt a lot, but more importantly broadened my horizons about foreign cultures, and even met Kanye West’s next-door neighbour and Priyanka Chopra’s third cousin. Next year, I plan on going to university to study maths, and from there, who knows.

Grace Kendrick – Student, University of Bristol – Adjusting to University Life

Grace Kendrick

My name is Grace Kendrick, a Law Masters student at the University of Bristol. I have loved studying in Bristol and decided to complete my MA here upon the completion of my History undergraduate degree in 2017. My favourite part of being a student here is the encouraging staff, the freedom of research and the opportunities to develop key skills alongside your degree. I also love spending time exploring Bristol at the weekends! My favourite things to do are walking across Clifton Suspension Bridge to the deer park, having lunch at Harbourside, or visiting one of the exiting museums.

Abbie Mountford – Student Recruitment and Widening Participation Assistant, University of Manchester – Adjusting to University Life

Abbie Mountford

I am a Psychology graduate from the University of Manchester, and now work within the Student Recruitment and Widening Participation team.

Adam Amor – Director, Buffoon Film and Media – Applying for the Creative Industries

Adam Amor.jpeg

Adam is a Director at Buffoon Film and Media, a video production and live streaming company based in Port Talbot. Working across the UK, Buffoon produces video content and live streams event for clients such as Tata Steel, UK Government, Nintendo and the Football Association of Wales.

A former student of Ysgol Ystalyfera, he started in business at 14 with a music promotion company but then decided to venture into film at 18 and started Buffoon.

You can find out more here https://www.buffoonfm.co.uk/en/about-us

George Stamets – PhD Researcher, University of Leeds – Politics, Philosophy and Economics Masterclass: Philosophy “An Introduction to Philosophy and the Free Will Debate”

George is a third-year PhD student in Philosophy at the University of Leeds, where he works under the supervision of Professor Helen Steward. He grew up in Easton, Pennsylvania, USA, and did his undergraduate work in Politics and Philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh. He completed an MA in Philosophy at Florida State University. His primary research interests concern the metaphysics of agency and the free will debate. He also has significant interests in ethics generally (especially meta-ethics and social and political philosophy), metaphysics (especially causation, laws of nature, modality, and personhood) and Epistemology. Outside of academics, George enjoys frequent treks into the British countryside, playing in softball tournaments across the UK on summer weekends, and doing some digital and film photography, especially of landscapes and wildlife.

Emyr Davies – Human, Social and Political Sciences, Cambridge University – Opening Student Keynote

Hi, I’m Emyr. I’ve just finished my first term studying Human, Social and Political Sciences at Jesus College, Cambridge. I come from Llandrindod Wells in Mid Wales.

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