From Chemistry to Osteopathy – Student Welfare Officer Jacqui White talks about her journey
After graduating from the University of Nottingham with a degree in Chemistry, I spent the first 2 years of my career working in the labs of Boots in their head office, firstly on research into pharmaceuticals, then working on formulating suntan lotions and sun creams in their Soltan range. I loved this work – especially trying out all of the different formulations, we also got to try formulations of all the other cosmetics so never had to buy any makeup! (Mind you some of wackier sun cream formulations would never have seen the light of day as they left you looking as if you have been spray painted with white emulsion!!)
I met my husband at uni and he was keen to move back to Kent and so I began work with ICI in their site in Yalding. I was the first female (and youngest) team leader, working on cereal herbicides worldwide. I often went to manufacturing plants where there were no female workers, especially on the manufacturing line, so that was interesting!! I was there for 14 years until the site closed and, like the ESO, it was a really close family working atmosphere and I have life long friends from my time there.
Once I had decided to take redundancy and not relocate, I studied for a PGCE and taught A level chemistry for a while, but really wasn’t enjoying the challenge and decided I wanted to try something completely different. It had taken me 10 years to have my 2 kids (with 6 miscarriages and numerous IUI and IVF cycles) and both had been born 8 weeks early so I decided I wanted a job where I could spend more time with my family. One day whilst waiting to go out, I was flicking through a free paper and saw an advert for Student Welfare Officer at the ESO – I had been part of the team which helped with the well-being of the ICI staff during the site closure and thought my science background and PGCE might allow me to help students academically as well as pastorally. The minute I drove up the drive at Boxley I knew this was where I wanted to work.
I started work in June 2006 and can honestly say that I love the place as much as I did that first day. Since I have been working here my job has changed beyond all recognition and I have studied for a TEFL qualification along with numerous academic and mental health courses, but my biggest achievement has been the 5 years I have spent training to be a therapeutic counsellor (which I completed in 2015). I now run my private counselling clinic at the ESO Clinic and work closely with the students to refer patients whose presenting pain may be psychosomatic rather than physical.
The main thing I love about the ESO is the people – both staff, faculty and our wonderful students. I love the accepting and inclusive nature of the course and the ESO family and I love the fact that everyone is cared for and cared about. Every day is completely different and I love the fact that I don’t know what the day will bring when I walk through the door in the morning. I feel part of a team and part of a family.
I especially love it on graduation day, when I see students who I know had struggled so hard during their time with us, complete the course and look so proud with their friends and families – knowing that we all helped them on their journey is an amazing feeling.
My advice to anyone starting with us at the ESO is to bottle the excitement you feel on your first day and always remember what motivated you to start on this journey. Like anything worthwhile, there will be times where things are challenging and you will need to be flexible and resilient to get through. My main advice is to engage with all the help and support we have to offer you. Whatever your issues, big or small, we have probably seen something similar before and can help you. The more you put in, the more you will get out and the more enjoyable your time with us will be.
For more information and for our interview with Jacqui about her role visit our welfare page.