Originally published April 2009 in The University of Gloucestershire outreach newsletter.
National and local press turned up in their droves as co-writer and star of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, Simon Pegg, received an Honorary Fellowship from the University of Gloucestershire.
There is a lot more to university than just burying your head in books, the experiences that come with studying at Higher Education can be priceless. Where else would you have the opportunity of hosting your own radio show? Writing articles for a newspaper? And meeting celebrity Honorary Fellows?
Thanks to an opportunity on my Public Relations course I was fortunate enough to attend and observe the frenzied and exciting experience of a press conference with Simon Pegg, following his acceptance of an Honorary Fellowship from the university. Best known for his comic appearances in Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and Run Fat Boy Run, locally born Pegg, formally of Brockworth School, was recognised for his contribution to the arts as an actor, writer, comedian, producer and director.
Seeing a celebrity in person is quite different compared to reading about them in column inches or watching a film. Simon Pegg was just a normal person, brilliant at what he does, but normal. Where he entered the room full of journalists, photographers and public relations students, dressed in his graduation gown, he seemed to blend in with the crowd. This soon changed with the onslaught of questions, video interviews and photo calls; we observed firsthand the rush of the paparazzi as they clambered to get that killer shot. Later Simon was photographed with our public relations group, and being surrounded by university students he clearly began to relax again.
The press conference was exciting and particularly relevant to my degree. Degrees are important but most jobs also require candidates to have experience of the working world. Studying Public Relations certainly requires a balance between theoretical knowledge and hands on experience. The University of Gloucestershire has been excellent so far, providing me with opportunities for work experience, last year I worked at a local business; Montpellier Marketing Communications giving me the chance to put to use some of the theory I had been learning during my first semester.
University has proved to be an ideal step forward for me, at the University of Gloucestershire I feel I have the chance to become somebody, preparing myself for entry into a competitive industry and giving me the tools to stand out from other applicants. I feel attending university has been a privilege and I am grateful for the opportunities it has given to me and the achievements I will continue to make.