We recently caught up with Anthropology student, Chloe Rooks, to find out all about her experience studying Anthropology at Roehampton. Her adventures include visiting South Africa as part of her dissertation project which was recently published.
Why did you choose to study at Roehampton?
I was drawn to studying in London to begin with because there is so much going on in the city. When I came to visit Roehampton at one of the open days, I fell in love with it. The campus is stunning and I loved the idea of walking through such beautiful surroundings every day. It’s located near natural areas (Richmond park) but also so close to the hustle and bustle of the city.
That was one of the reasons that sold me on the university, but the other was the Anthropology course and the Department of Life Sciences. Reading up on all of the research the Anthropology lecturers had undertaken and their different areas of studies really resonated with me.
I loved that Jonathan Skinner studied dance, sea turtles and many other forms of tourism. I was a scuba diving instructor in Egypt before enrolling onto the course and this tourism and aquatic focus really excited me!
I couldn’t wait to hear about Istvan Praet’s experiences with the Chachi and Nadine Beckmann’s time in Zimbabwe. Knowing the people who would be teaching me had such fantastic experiences under their belt and were researching such interested things made studying at Roehampton really appealing.
What is your favourite thing about your course?
Anthropology is not as widely chosen as some other courses and we had a small class (about 30 of us) and this meant that we were able to get to know each other by name in all of our lectures and seminars. I became close friends with everyone on my course. I felt that having this smaller group allowed me to get so much more out of my university experience. There was time to ask more questions, we could get to know our lecturers better and have more one to one time with them if needed. Myself and the other students all got to know each other really well and became a very tight group. I was able to feel a closer connection with my class, teachers and subject of study which I think I was very lucky to have!
Another highlight of course was the South Africa Trip. I wrote my dissertation Insight into Africa: wildlife tourism as educational transformation on this trip and it was published in a book called Positive Tourism in Africa edited by Mucha Mkono.
Could you tell us about your research and how you got it published?
Towards the end of second year, students start forming ideas about what they wish to study for their dissertation. For me, I knew what I wanted to study. I had already signed up and paid to go on the South Africa module over the summer of second year, and I thought this would be a great opportunity to carry out my dissertation research, too. After discussions with my lovely dissertation advisor Dr Jonathan Skinner, I decided my work would focus on the how the students experienced educational tourism and ecotourism when in South Africa and I started planning my work.
Shortly after this my dissertation advisor sent me an advertisement he had seen. It was asking for chapter proposals to go in to a book about Positive Tourism in South Africa. At first I thought Jonathan was suggesting this book would be helpful for my dissertation, but instead he had sent it to me thinking it might be something I was interested in (since my dissertation was on a similar subject).
I wasn’t sure at first I thought it’d be too much work for my third year, but I thought sod it, how many people get the chance to do this?! I was also extremely flattered that my lecturer had felt I was capable of doing this and I didn’t want to let him down. Jonathan and I got in contact with the South Africa trip leaders Professor Garry Marvin and Dr Caroline Ross, Head of Life Sciences, so they could help me navigate my research whilst in South Africa. We all wrote a proposal together, sent it off and got accepted! It was very exciting.
I did a lot of preparation before we went to South Africa. I read a lot of literature, wrote down many questions, and discussed with both Jonathan and Garry how it was best to do things. I hugely enjoyed my time in South Africa, but also made time to do my interviews and jot down lots of research for the article and my dissertation. It was honestly an amazing trip! I would highly recommend that anyone who has the opportunity to do the South Africa module does!
After the trip, I came back and we wrote. I wrote a couple thousand words and sent it to Jonathan, Garry and Caroline. They read it, made suggestions, sent it back, and I wrote again. It circulated like this for a while until it was finished and we sent it off to the editor!
What tips do you have for students who would like to be published?
I do think I was lucky that Jonathan spotted the book advertisement and sent it to me. I got involved because it was about South African tourism and fortunately I was about to go and research this anyway. So in part, it was luck, however, my advice to others would be to get involved! Chat to your lecturers, make friends, don’t be embarrassed to throw yourself in at the deep end and show you’re really interested. I’ve always engaged with my course and made an effort to chat to my teachers. I love learning and always want to learn more, so I think this is really helpful when it comes to getting something published. Don’t be shy! Get everything you can out of your academic experience. That’s what it is there for and you definitely won’t regret it!
What other activities were you involved with at Roehampton? Are there any that you would recommend?
I worked at the Hive café throughout my 3 years, the sustainability project café which is affiliated with Growhampton and the Student’s Union. That job has made my uni experience! I have made so many friends, had so much fun and made lots of memories. I couldn’t speak more highly of it. Everything the Hive and Growhampton do and stand for is amazing. I would encourage anyone visiting Roehampton to go and get a lunch there to meet the people, take in the atmosphere and learn about what’s going on!
Where are you planning on going after graduation?
I’ve got a job lined up! After a very long application and interview process I managed to land a job working in marketing at the British Heart Foundation, so I’m very excited about that!
I’ve always seen myself doing charity work as a career; I want to help people that are struggling and in need of support. In the future I hope to work abroad with some form of NGO and I think a lot of what my degree has taught me will make this easier (e.g., cultural understanding etc).
For now though, just being in the charity sector, learning about how it works and gaining some core experiences is what I’m focusing on and I’m really looking forward to it!