“I joined the University of Brighton in 2018 for my undergraduate degree in Fashion and Dress History (now renamed Fashion and Design History) with no idea of the career path I wanted to take. This degree gave me the opportunity to learn so many new things and understand what really interests me. I started a placement at the Old Police Cells Museum in my second year which was cut short (in-person) due to the outbreak of Covid. However, I was lucky enough to continue it online throughout the lockdowns, returning in-person to the museum in summer 2020. Volunteering here allowed me to realise that I really want to peruse working in the heritage sector.
Undertaking extensive research for a dissertation during lockdown was a challenge but it taught me to be resilient and look for alternative ways to find information. I utilised social media to connect with artists to build my research. My dissertation titled “Femininity and the Fashion Doll: How Contemporary Designers are Engaging with the Barbie Doll”.
Finally knowing what career path I wanted to take, I applied for Curating Collections and Heritage (MA). I was delighted to be awarded the “Change Studentship” which funded my studies. The award has allowed me to fully focus on my studies and professional development. I was able to increase the time I dedicated to volunteering at The Old Police Cells Museum as Conservation Manager. My role here reinforced my love for collections management and solidified my ambition to peruse a career in collections. Because of the studentship, I volunteered here two days a week. I also gained experience managing a team of volunteers, as well as develop key procedures to take care of the collection held at the museum. This extra commitment to the museum has resulted in me achieving a paid position within the museum as Museum and Conservation Manager. Through this new role, I have been able to transfer my academic knowledge to practice by developing my curation skills. This has been apparent most recently through a Museums Development grant which is funding our latest exhibition titled “Civil Disobedience”. I have been overseeing, and project managing the fulfilment of this grant, and I am excited to see the results of this exhibition this month (September 2022).
The studentship also provided me with a mentor, a freelance curator in the museum industry. We have met multiple times to discuss career development opportunities and have now developed an excellent working relationship. My mentor’s knowledge and insights into the industry have been vital in my understanding of the museum world. I am very appreciative of this connection and hope it continues after my studies finish. In the future, I’m hoping to continue working within the heritage industry.
The Change Studentship has been a real driving force for me to focus on my studies and career development. I think it is important for donors to continue supporting students in the future because it provides people with an opportunity to study and achieve their goals. It also allows people that might otherwise not be able to afford university a chance to get a degree or provide them time to volunteer alongside their degree in the industry they want to enter. So often jobs now need previous experience even if they are entry level and the only way to get this is through working for free which is a privilege not everyone has access to. Through donations, people can do this, which in turn can diversify work forces by giving everyone equal opportunities. Thank you to the James Henry Green Charitable Trust via the Royal Pavilion and Museums Trust.”
Some photos show Rachel at her recent installation of the new exhibition at the museum.
For more information about the Change Studentship, click here.
For more information about our scholarships and awards, click here.