Edinburgh Graduations – Class of 2015

Congratulations to all of our recent graduates of class 2015! Heriot-Watt has seen yet another successful year in both the Edinburgh and Scottish Borders campuses.

The Heriot-Watt alumni team were very privileged to share in the celebrations with the #HWUgrads and
document the amazing atmosphere at each reception. The graduates arrived with their glad rags on and were in highspirits as the they celebrated their achievements…all this whilst posing for some incredible photos!

Follow the link below to check out the alumni FB page to see all our graduation photos from the receptions: http://bit.ly/1dwLsCx

Here are a few of our favourites:

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1975 Civil Engineering Graduates 40th Reunion

We were delighted to hear about another Heriot-Watt reunion the below report, written by Allan Hill, shows how important a lifelong alumni network can be.

From front, left to right: David Hadden, Robin Smith, Bob Nicol, Bob Young, Allan Hill, Dave McManus, Neil Wands, Jock Rafferty, Murray Hannah, Jim Simpson, Ken Mosley, Ian Bertram, Dave Pringle, Frank Ovens, Brian Chalmers, Tom Barr, John O'Donnel, Dave Spiers, Ian Ross, Alan Pottinger, Joe McLaughlin.

From front, left to right: David Hadden, Robin Smith, Bob Nicol, Bob Young, Allan Hill, Dave McManus, Neil Wands, Jock Rafferty, Murray Hannah, Jim Simpson, Ken Mosley, Ian Bertram, Dave Pringle, Frank Ovens, Brian Chalmers, Tom Barr, John O’Donnel, Dave Spiers, Ian Ross, Alan Pottinger, Joe McLaughlin.

“Civil Engineering graduates of 1975 celebrated their 40th re-union on the 20th of June. The day started at the new visitor centre for the Queensferry Bridge. David Climie of Transport Scotland, the Project Director for the new Queensferry Bridge gave an informative, passionate talk on the works carried out to date. A Heriot Watt graduate himself with a career in bridge building in different parts of the world, he was very patient in answering the many questions from the keenly interested audience.

After the talk, Aiden Merrilees, a graduate with Transport Scotland, escorted the group along the Forth Bridge from where there was a good view of the works being carried. Aiden fielded the many questions admirably.

In the evening, celebrations continued at the Carlton Hotel, Edinburgh. Tom Barr started off proceedings with a short talk. The vast majority of the graduates in the class were the first to go to university in their families and they were all proud of that. Everyone helped each other to get through their studies with the aim of doing their best.

Tom showed some photos from past re-unions and much was made of the changes in fashion and the changes in length, amount and colour of hair. Tom also referred to those who were not able to make it and especially to Dougie Ironside, sadly deceased. There then was a surprise when Andy Ord was contacted by Skype. Andy, now retired and living in the States, was re-introduced to the class. He is visiting Edinburgh next Spring and he hopes to meet up with as many of the class as possible.

There then was a special POETS performance by Robin Smith which blended Poetry with Bridges and included a poem describing how a civil engineer is a dreamer who, with others, creates infrastructures.. All looked forward to Robin’s weekly POETS bulletin on a Friday morning. All acknowledged it as a main contributor to keeping people in touch.DSC01167 01

Barr’s Irun Crewe won the “Highlights of 1975, for those who can remember” Quiz, sharing the proceeds, a bottle of Glenlivet, with all.

At the end of the day’s celebrations, Neil Wands thanked Dave Pringle, the organising committee, Tom and Robin for their hard work and contributions in making this 40th re-union such a memorable occasion.”

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Watt Club Prize 2015

We’re going to give £250 to the most inspirational, enterprising and exceptional student at Heriot-Watt.

Whilst the focus at university is studying for a degree, we feel it’s just as vital to celebrate students who go the extra mile in extra curricular activities. This could be going above and beyond expected duties in a volunteering capacity, overcoming a disability, inspiring others to achieve greatness or simply being there for someone when they needed it most.

The Watt Club – the name given to Heriot-Watt’s graduate body – celebrates the best student each year with a cash prize of £250 and recognition of their efforts. We are now accepting nominations from all staff – academic and professional – for this prize.

Do you know a Heriot-Watt student who deserves recognition for their efforts?

Steve Chapman and Tasnim Hassan

Tasnim receiving her award from Heriot-Watt’s previous Vice-Chancellor, Professor Steve Chapman.

Last year’s winner was Tasnim Hassan, a student at our dubai campus whose passion for social responsibility led her to found the Humanitarian Club. As she said herself, “Nowadays we are so busy satisfying our own needs, we tend to forget that there are people who need what we take for granted. We need more of the kind-hearted and loving people in the world, and it is us students who can make the change.”

Tasnim with members of her group.

Tasnim was nominated by Sheelagh Wallace, Director of Administration and Registrar at Heriot-Watt’s Dubai Campus, who said “I oversee all extra-curricular activites at the Dubai Campus and can honestly say that the Humanitarium Club is a credit to the Dubai Campus and I am very proud of Tasnim (and her members) for taking time out of their personal lives to help others.”

We encourage entries from all year groups, all modes of study and all campuses, including distance learners. If you will receive a Heriot-Watt degree at the end of your studies, then you are entitled to be nominated!

Click here for a nomination form. Remember, a member of Heriot-Watt staff must nominate you, and the forms should be returned to us at watt.club@hw.ac.uk by the 15th June 2015. If you have any queries, you can contact us on that email address too, and we’ll get back to you.

Good luck!

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Stephanie Inglis – Judon’t know who your messing with!

IMG_2772“On the very first day of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, I took to the stage to represent Team Scotland and Judo Scotland in the u57kg category. I was the 6th fight of the day on and the first Scottish girl to fight.

Up first I had a girl from Malaysia and as I stood in the tunnel feeling both nervous and excited, a massive roar by the crowd greeted me. It was so loud I couldn’t even here my name being called out. I cannot describe just how proud I felt at that moment and also knowing that my family, boyfriend and close friends were in the crowd supporting me. My boyfriend had made a huge banner with a photo of me and read ‘Pride of the North’, which was one of the first things I seen as I walked out of the tunnel. My close friends also had a banner reading this time ‘Judon’t know who your messing with!’ which made me laugh a little!

My first fight went really well as I managed to beat my opponent in 45 seconds with my favourite turnover on the ground (sangaku). I was so happy to get my first fight under my belt and was overwhelmed by the noise of the crowd after I was awarded the win. I was looking around smiling trying to take it all in, that I actually misplaced my feet and fell off the stage – very embarrassing! The crowd went from cheering to shouts of ooooohhhh! Haha but I was fine!

IMG_2770My next fight was against the New Zealand girl who was ranked number one in this competition. She is the Oceania Champion, which is the equivalent to our European Champion, and is currently ranked 20 in the world. I knew I had to be tactical in this fight and after getting a small score early on, I managed to stay in control of the fight and get the girl penalized which led me to the win.

Winning this fight booked me a place in the semi-final against the Cameroon girl who was the African Champion, again the equivalent to our European Champion, so I had a pretty tough draw! I had watched the girl fight her first fight and she looked very strong, and after gripping up first exchange, I soon found out that this definitely was the case! Again I had to fight smart and managed to overcome my opponent by winning on penalties to book my place in the final! I was so happy and the crowd were going crazy! I couldn’t believe I had actually done what I set out to do and get into a Commonwealth final in my home turf!

IMG_2782The final saw me face the English girl, Nekoda Davis, who I had beaten twice before. I was the very last fight of the day and was feeling both nervous but determined to go for the win. I had a clear fight plan in my head and I went out into the match going after just that, however my opponents tactics proved better than mine on that day, landing me in silver medal position. At first I was disappointed not to come away with the gold but after reflecting on my performance throughout the day, I am delighted with my result!

Since then I have had TV interviews, radio interviews, newspaper interviews, meet and greets, photographs and signing events. It has all been a bit surreal to think all these people want a photo with me and my signature is quite a cool thing but very funny for me to get my head around! I also enjoyed attending the athletes parade in Glasgow along with my fellow Team Scotland judo team which are now the most successful sport ever in a Commonwealth Games. I feel so lucky and so proud to have contributed and been a part of it!

IMG_2887I would like to thank all at Heriot-Watt University for your support and help in making this possible for me to achieve. Silver medal at a Commonwealth Games is definitely the highlight of my career!!

I now move on to look to qualify for the Rio Olympic Games 2016. In order to do so I must be ranked top 16 in the world, which will be tough, and a lot of hard work on my behalf, however I believe that if I can qualify there is no reason why I could not walk away with a medal!”

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Alumni Magazine – Spring 2015

We’re delighted to release the spring 2015 edition of In Conversation, our magazine for alumni and friends of Heriot-Watt.

In this issue we hear from Sir Geoff Palmer on his life in brewing; Baroness Alison Suttie reunites with her Russian lecturer after 25 years, and we celebrate our Judo team’s success at the 2014 Commonwealth games. That, though, is only scraping the surface!

Click the image below to be taken to our interactive issue with additional galleries and movies, or click here to download a PDF version.

In Conversation Spring 2015


If you would like the magazine sent straight to your inbox before it is released online, just make sure your email address is up to date with us. You can do that by clicking here.

Posted in #HWUgrads, Alumni Awards & Recognition, Alumni Magazine, Alumni News, Brewing & Distilling, Built Environment, Dubai Campus, Edinburgh Business School, Engineering & Physical Sciences, Graduate Profile, Heriot-Watt Malaysia, Heriot-Watt Sport, Heriot-Watt University, Institute of Petroleum Engineering, Leadership Lecture Series, Management & Languages, Textiles & Design | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

So Much in Life is Serendipitous

bobDr Robert Buchan is an international businessman and highly successful entrepreneur. He’s driven forward the creation of a number of mining companies and is widely admired for his business acumen. With this level of achievement you might expect a clear plan to lie behind his success but Bob explains that serendipity has played a key role in his career:

“When I chose my undergraduate degree at Heriot-Watt I picked mining because I thought it looked easy! My aim was not to follow in my family’s tradition of fishing, so mining offered a possible alternative. It was undoubtedly a random choice.”

 After graduating he came across an opportunity to study an MSc at Queen’s University in Canada and thought it would be an interesting way to discover another country:

“I had no real plan of what I might do with the qualification and it was actually quite a cultural shock to be in Canada: very different to Scotland. However, I saw that Canada was a genuine meritocracy and that anyone might be able to succeed here. It just so happened that my study time in the country coincided with the Canadian Government changing the rules for landed immigrant status which meant I was able to apply to be a resident while in the country. Had I arrived a year later, I would’ve had to leave Canada after my studies and applied for residency from Scotland. I’m not sure that would have happened.”bob2

Initially Bob worked for a mining equipment company but he moved into finance after meeting his neighbour:

“Yes, it was a serendipitous meeting. I was fascinated by the work, and lifestyle, of my neighbour who was a portfolio manager in finance. It inspired me to seek work as an analyst, and without knowing how to achieve that, I simply selected the first three stockbrokers out of the Yellow Pages and wrote asking them to employ me as one. I got lucky, A.E. Ames offered me a position.”

I realised I could run a company

Through his work as an analyst Bob entered the world of finance and the stock market and met the people who were wheeling and dealing in the sector:

“It opened my eyes to the kinds of people who were running companies. I thought they would all have incredibly high IQs and was somewhat disappointed to find that wasn’t the case. But it made me realise that CEOs were not exceptional intellectuals – it was their attitude and application that mattered. This insight changed my life: I realised I could run a company.”

So in 1993 he set up his first mining company, Kinross Gold, which he grew into the world’s sixth-largest gold producer. Later he formed Katanga Mining Ltd, which by the time he left, had a market value of more than US$1 billion. His next highly successful company was Allied Nevada, which he still chairs:


Bob Buchan with Professor Steve Chapman

“The trouble with being an entrepreneur is that you’re never happy. You’re always wondering what’s over the next hill and setting yourself another mountain to climb. I consider it a very demanding mistress which continually drives you to do more, and constantly pushes you to see what’s possible.”

Bob went onto lead a number of other mining companies and to become a dedicated philanthropist, supporting a wide range of organisations including the Whitlock Energy Collaboration Centre at Carnegie College, Fife, and the Robert M Buchan Department of Mining at Queen’s University, Ontario. In 2013 he donated £1.3 million to Heriot-Watt, our single largest donation from an individual to date, to create the Robert M Buchan Chair in Sustainable Energy Engineering.

Click here to read more about the Chair and what it will help the University to achieve.


Bob Buchan with Professor Mercedes Maroto Valer, the Robert M Buchan Chair in Sustainable Energy Engineering


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David Somerville – Coaching To Greatness

2014-09-15 13.27.12“Our goal at the Commonwealth Games was to win five medals. Obviously we exceed that by some way,” says David Somerville, a BA Management (2004) graduate and previous recipient of a Heriot-Watt Sports Scholarship Programme. With a total haul of 13 judo medals, his time as Judo Scotland’s High Performance Coach has brought great success to the sport.


Heriot-Watt student and Judo Scotland member, Stephanie Inglis with her Commonwealth silver.

David has helped top Judo athletes like Heriot-Watt student Stephanie Inglis to reach the top tier, using his own experience of performing at this level. A Commonwealth medal winner himself at the 2002 Manchester games, David’s time on the mat has ensured he can find the right balance between supporting and pushing athletes to enable them to achieve their best.

“I’ve been on the full journey from athlete to coach to manager. I work out development paths for athletes, and manage a team of coaches who deliver it. I’m seldom on the mat any more – my work is more like a football manager”

David was originally going to study Biochemistry at Glasgow university, but decided to defer his studies and take time studying Judo. After some traveling, he ended up in Edinburgh where he soon enrolled as a mature student on a management degree at Heriot-Watt. With the support of former Director of Sport and Exercise, Mike Fitchett, David managed to secure a sports. “The scholarship programme offered stability, financial and academic, which allowed me to be able to strike a balance between my training and learning. It was crucial to my success.”

I don’t think we would have had all the successes and medals we won if it had not been for Heriot-Watt

2014-09-15 13.25.52Heriot-Watt’s support has, David feels, helped the Scottish team into such a winning position. “I don’t think we would have had all the successes and medals we won if it had not been for Heriot-Watt. If push came to shove, people would probably quit their sports training in order to focus on their degree, but luckily that didn’t happen, mainly due to the scholarship programme, and so we have ended up with the most successful Scottish sports team ever at the Commonwealth Games.”

“JudoScotland’s Performance Programme value our continued relationship with Heriot-Watt Sport Scholarship Programme.  I have no doubts that our JudoScotland would not have achieved such tremendous success at 2014 Commonwealth Games with the support of Heriot-Watt University”

Judo in Scotland continues to go from strength to strength. “Our next target is the Senior European Championships in April 2015, and then it’s the Olympic Games in Rio. We’ve never won an Olympic medal, so right now we’re evaluating what we did right in Glasgow so we can up our game and really take on the world.”

To find out more about Judo Scotland, click here.

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Fifty Shades of Tartan

Amy Jarecki
MBA, 1996

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Amy Jarecki studied for her MBA from Heriot-Watt via distance learning, and soon began writing Scottish historical romance novels. We caught up with her to find out more about her career.

Who are you and where do you come from?

The first thing that came to mind was a snarky remark: I’m Zoretta from the planet Zoton. Hello earthlings!

Amy Jarecki Head Shot_SmallerAhem. Forgive me. I am Amy Jarecki, and I’m an author. When I studied at Heriot-Watt, I was Amy Guy. I was born in California, grew up in Washington State, lived in Australia for ten years, and then added Colorado, Wisconsin, New Jersey, and now Utah to my list of “came froms.” I live in St. George on the Utah/Arizona/Nevada border, and I’m a short, jaunty two-hour drive from Las Vegas.

What inspired you to do your course and study at HW?

I earned an MBA from Heriot-Watt’s distance learning programme. My undergrad was in accounting which I found rather dull, and wanted to be in charge. But I had a one-year-old daughter, and needed coursework I could study on my own time. Heriot-Watt advertised in the National Accountant Magazine in Australia, and after I contacted them, I knew it was the perfect MBA course for me.

What was your time here like?

I suppose I’m a bit different because I studied by distance learning. I enjoyed working through the modules at my own pace. I studied during my lunch hour, and whenever my daughter was sleeping. I took the course “part time” which on average should have taken four years, but I completed it in three while working full time and being a mother.

In Australia I sat my exams at the New South Wales Board of Studies. When I moved back to the U.S. halfway through the course, I sat my exams at the University of Washington.

I was thrilled to my toes to go to Scotland for graduation and walk with my classmates in 1996. Professor Lumsden made it quite a special occasion with a cocktail party the night before on campus. The ceremony was at the Church of Scotland Assembly Hall on Mound Place. Scotland holds a tender place in my heart. My maiden name is Trotter, and my ancestor was Johan Trot who signed the Ragman Roll. Americans all identify with their ethnic pasts—something not seen as much in other cultures. But in the U.S., most of us come from someplace else, and we are as fiercely loyal to our heritage as we are to our own country.

I was able to spend time traveling through Scotland on that visit, and was thoroughly enthralled with the rich history and friendly people.

What have you done since graduating – what are the highlights?

After graduating, I was promoted to CFO of the small company I worked for at the time. I took the leap to a big corporation (Ball) in 1998, and became their only female plant manager in a plastic bottle manufacturing plant. They transferred me across the country until I hit New Jersey, and managed an 850,000 square foot facility producing 5 million bottles a day. When Ball decided to sell the Plastics Division, I joined Bway in Utah for a couple years.AmyJarecki_AHighlandKnightsDesire_200px

But my love had always been writing. After graduating from Heriot-Watt, I wrote a couple of novels in my free time, which are now in shallow graves (yep, they were really bad). I hung up my quill when life got too busy with raising my daughter and working ungodly hours. But when I moved to Utah, I had an epiphany at the Parowan Gap petroglyphs. I wrote a book, now titled Boy Man Chief, which won the Utah League of Writers Award for Best Manuscript and the Spark Book Award. It was published, and not long after, I left manufacturing and haven’t looked back. After dallying with a couple contemporary romance novels, I tried my hand at Scottish historical romance, and discovered my niche.

Thus far I’ve written ten Scottish historical romances (not all out yet), and in November, my novel Captured by the Pirate Laird hit #24 on Amazon’s (US) bestseller list. All of my books have spent time as #1 on their genre list, but hitting #24 and rubbing elbows with Diana Gabaldon and Nora Roberts was a personal best for me. In December my novel, A Highland Knight’s Desire won a contract with Amazon Publishing, and will be released in April 2015. I’m super excited about that.

What does the future hold?

AmyJarecki_KnightInHighlandArmor_200pxI’m looking forward to three more new releases this year. In January I started writing a four-book time-travel series entitled Guardian of Scotland about William Wallace. I’m almost finished with the first draft of book one (Rise of a Legend). I am ultra-psyched about this new series, which hopefully will come out in 2016. It has taken a ton of research, and provided new angles from which I haven’t written before.

I also have travel planned. Since graduation, I have been back to Scotland twice, and am returning for another research trip in June. I’d love to meet up with Heriot-Watt alumni or students! You can contact me through my website: http://www.amyjarecki.com

What advice do you have for future graduates hoping to follow in your footsteps?

The interesting thing about having a successful writing career is that you need business savvy. My MBA has helped immensely analyzing trends to find my niche. Writing fiction successfully is very much an entrepreneurial endeavor.

To all those studying to be business managers or entrepreneurs, know how to analyze everything. Slicing and dicing data statistically is the most important thing you can do. Know your competition and where their strengths and weaknesses lie…then you’ll find your niche.

Finally, develop an impeccable work ethic, be tenacious and persevere. Losing is not an option. Success is not measured by your net worth, but by how richly you live your lives.

You can find out more about Amy by visiting her website at www.amyjarecki.com.

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David White, MSc Marine Resource Development & Protection – Graduate Profile

David White
MSc in Marine Resource Development and Protection (MRDP) 2002-2003
Programme Management Specialist, Crisis and Continuity Management, BP

Time of workDavid studied the Masters in Marine Resource Development and Protection (MRDP) in 2002/2003. He came to Heriot-Watt with a degree in Geology from Southampton University and a year’s experience working in the marine pollution sector. We caught up with him to find out how his career was progressing.

What inspired you to do your course and study at Heriot-Watt?

My working background, coupled with my personal interests in the marine environment fuelled my desire to learn more. I decided to leave my job before it became a true career and therefore difficult to leave, to undertake the MSc to broaden my experience and knowledge, not to mention gaining the qualification with the hope it would aid future career development.

I chose Heriot-Watt specifically for a number of reasons ranging from its solid reputation in marine and engineering sciences, its Edinburgh location and its ties with Charles Darwin Research Station in the Galapagos.

What was your time here like?

Put simply, it was thoroughly enjoyable! The course had a diverse range of fascinating modules and it was a great balance of lectures and personal study, with some fieldtrips. Living on the outskirts of Edinburgh added to the enjoyable experience of Heriot-Watt. It’s a great location; easy to both get into the city centre and get out into the Scottish countryside. Also, I was fortunate enough to conduct my dissertation in the Galapagos which was a wonderful and inspiring experience that I will never forget.

I stayed on the islands for 4 weeks and worked at the research centre. My work focused on the risk of oil spills, their potential environmental and socioeconomic impact, and what protection measures could be put in place. The work took me to a number of amazing and unique localities across the archipelago.

What have you done since graduating – what are the highlights?On a spill response

After graduating I was fortunate enough to get a job at Oil Spill Response Limited (OSRL) where I spent nearly 10 years. It was a great company to work for and constantly provided valuable developmental opportunities and experiences.

The work was also varied and exciting ranging from consultancy, training and hands-on practical deployments and responses, all coupled with extensive travel to far-flung destinations such as Sudan, Nigeria, Libya, Gabon, Kazakhstan, Singapore and many, many more.

I really consider that my MSc helped me get into OSRL and provided the foundation for an enjoyable and successful career. More recently I have joined BP where I work within the crisis management group. It is providing a fascinating insight into how a major global corporation operates, and it is certainly never a dull moment!

What does the future hold?

Never an easy question to answer! Working for a major oil company provides a wealth of opportunity to explore, and being fairly new to the company I am still learning. I do miss the travel of OSRL however that can be remedied with adventurous holidays when time allows!

What advice do you have for future graduates hoping to follow in your footsteps????????????????????????????????

Having spoken at student careers fairs in the past, I always advocate work experience. I feel it is critical to get ahead. Use your summers and gap year(s) effectively. Obviously leave room for fun, but also try to get some valuable personal develop and experience that will make you stand out and be attractive to a potential employer.

Also, if you know what career you want to pursue, select the relevant course modules where you can, and try to shape your course work and dissertation to follow that path. By doing so you may be lucky enough to make connections with individuals, groups and companies outside of University that could provide that lucky break.

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UN Intern – Reflections on a unique experience in New York

UNThe 11th recipient of the Fiona Watson Memorial Award was Eleanor Peacock, a languages and interpreting graduate of Heriot-Watt. Awarded annually, the prize an opportunity for a Heriot-Watt graduate to work as an Intern at the UN’s headquarters in New York. Here’s an extract of Eleanor’s report.

“Picture the scene: it’s a chilly, windy February day and I’m wrapped up in bed with a rather nasty bout of winter flu. It’s around nine in the morning when I wake up due
to an incoming call from an unknown number, assuming it’s most likely a telemarketing company or somebody asking if I was aware I could claim for an accident I’d never had. Nevertheless, I answered the phone with my somewhat-husky voice and to my surprise, on the other end was Jenny Swan from the Alumni Office. At this stage I had an idea about what she could be calling to say but I didn’t let my mind get ahead of me. A few seconds later, it had been confirmed – I was to be the lucky 11th recipient of the extremely prestigious Fiona Watson Memorial Award. I was going to New York City to intern for the United Nations!peacock pass

Somehow unknowingly, I managed to set my starting date at the United Nations on the same day as the beginning of the annual General Assembly. It was a scorching hot day, and my first task was to get my UN Grounds Pass. After managing to get into the cordoned-off streets after a few minor disputes with an NYPD Police Officer, unbeknown to me, a seven-and-a-half hour queue waited ahead. Despite the sore feet, the slight sunburn (oh pasty skin!) and the media taking endless photos, it was a successful day!

peacockOn day two, a fellow intern tapped me on the shoulder just as I was about to head through the security checks to inform me that ‘my Prime Minister’ was behind us. He was correct, David Cameron was there, surrounded by paparazzi up until the security entrance, standing behind us whilst he waited to get to the General Assembly building. I felt rather overwhelmed at this, but he got ushered through very quickly. At this moment, an intern from Norway squealed as she realised that her Prime Minister was coming through as well.”

To read Eleanor’s UN Intern report in full, please click here for PDF download.

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