Graduate Blog

Why Join A Society At Uni?


Having recently graduated, I am constantly being asked whether I miss my time at university. The answer is an unequivocal yes. You would be right in thinking the multiple deadlines, the early morning lectures and the inevitable need to ask the barman which is the cheapest whiskey are not the fondest of memories. (Unfortunately I place the same order as a graduate, but at least I now know what it is and no longer have to ask.) Nevertheless, when I cast a nostalgic mind back to my (fairly recent) days of living as a student, there is one major piece of the university puzzle that sticks out as the best thing I have ever done.

As a fresher that, save a summer fete performance with my school choir in Year 5, had never sung in public, I went out of some sort of accidental impulse to the taster session for Royal Holloway Gospel Choir. I tried out a few other societies that year, but none struck such a chord with me as did Gospel. At the time, of course, I had no idea what joining this choir would mean for me as a shy, quiet, little fresher.

After winning a national competition in 2011, together we performed as backing singers on ITV’s The X Factor, sang twice at the Royal Albert Hall, toured Italy, Croatia and Austria, recorded our own single, shot our first music video and performed countless times across campus raising thousands of pounds for charity. These adventures are truly once in a lifetime opportunities that I am very thankful for having experienced. Of course none of this could have happened without the incredible people that are this gospel choir. I constantly acknowledge how lucky I was to be able to come along for the ride. Not only do I have these memories and stories, but they sure do come in handy as a nice CV booster in the cutthroat world of job-hunting. No more stuttering over those “And when was the last time you worked as part of a team?” interview questions.

Although the above experiences did a lot for that shy little fresher I mentioned, even without the large amount of luck (and hard work!) that granted us them, Gospel would still have meant the same thing. It meant finding people with the same interests, making friends for life and always knowing someone will be up for a cheeky pint in the pub no matter the day. Personally, it meant going from singing so quietly that if the choir stopped and I carried on no one would notice, to singing a solo and having the guts to perform at an open mic night in my last week as a student. It meant going from just throwing myself into something way out of my comfort zone to being elected President in my third year and giving back to the choir that did so much for me. No more stumbling over those “When was the last time you did something you were proud of?” interview questions.

If you do anything at university, go to your lectures. If you do anything else, join a society. You never know what might happen.

About the Author

Katherine McKenzie

I am a recent literature graduate of Royal Holloway University of London. I had three incredible years there and being part of the Gospel Choir society was particularly exciting. Now it's time to see where graduate life takes me! My ultimate aim is to combine my love of both writing and music into my career.

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