What Else Can Define You Other Than Your Degree?


When you graduate from University or live as a student, you may keep your nose to the grindstone and just focus on your line of work. Actually, this does not have to be so.

University of Southampton Alumnus, ECS graduate, and Insider Career Mentor, Tim Whitcher, has taken this article’s title to heart. Graduating with an Electromechanical Engineering degree, Tim currently works as a project consultant for CAPBROWN Consulting Ltd. Besides his career, Tim also considers fundraising and volunteering as gratifying parts of his adult life.

 “I try to do something for charity every year and wherever possible try to do something a little more crazy than the last – running 14 half marathons seems like it fit that criteria!”

Tim Whitcher
University of Southampton and ECS Undergraduate alumnus

Tim’s feat certainly takes commitment. He is fundraising for the British Heart Foundation, though to undertake fourteen half marathon was not planned.

“I signed up to run the British Heart Foundation [BHF] Swindon 5 Mile Multi-terrain Run on October 13th this year and whilst I was looking on the BHF website I noticed that they have a number of half marathons over the year. It turns out there are 14 of them..!” – Tim Whitcher

Volunteering helps others and it can also help you. Volunteering is gratifying and can make you realise the value of your own life.

If you are going to ask someone to volunteer money for others it’s got to be worth it (as I was once told “I expect to see blood!”). It’s got to motivate people and capture their attention. Hopefully this will do that and get support and money for the BHF. Maybe even get a few people to think about some things they can do

– Tim Whitcher

Tim is not going alone on this adventure – his wife Cailey, an Alumnus of the University of Bath, graphic designer, and a Trustee of the Swindon Down’s Syndrome Group, is also planning to run a number of local marathons to support this local charity.

“Your abilities can take you to the top, but it is your character that will keep you there.” – from the poem ‘Define Yourself’ by Karen Mortensen

Charity work is familiarly sold with ‘Help others by doing your part’. However, reiterating this same old message can devalue its other worth.

Joining the enthusiastic students in SUSU RAG is not mandatory. Other groups can build your character before graduating. Although not involved in SUSU RAG as an undergraduate, Tim believes that lessons from it should be instilled during University.

You do the job that is put in front of you. Sometimes that means doing crazy things and taking on long odds in the desperate hope that maybe it will make a difference

 – Tim Whitcher

Tim started volunteering with a group of friends. Tom Oliver (Alum. University of Manchester), Mark Kilby (Alum. University of Bournemouth), Richard Flaherty (Alum. University of Hull) and Padraic Dunne (Alum. Dublin Institute of Technology). They walked 102 miles of the Cotswold Way for a charity that bores wells in Kenya. They amusingly called their walk their ‘Screams, Panic, Darkness and Frenzy tour’ to describe how they would feel after the three days to complete the challenge.

The DRIP Foundation

Fundraising brings a flurried sense of pride, but you unfathomably change another person’s life. Tim, along with a team of friends, built 78 water tanks and trained 800 for the Direct Rainwater Intervention Project (DRIP) in Uganda. This opportunity arose from meeting charity trustees whilst working in Germany.

Tim Whitcher volunteering in Uganda, Kenya.

We went to Pallisa district in Eastern Uganda, spent some time with local families and lived in a small compound in the suburbs – no running water or power and bought all our food at the local market

– Tim Whitcher

We should seek ways to use our time meaningfully. Volunteering is an option.

Tim Whitcher with the children he helped make wells for in Uganda, Kenya.

Our degrees can completely define how we live and interact with others, if we let it. Venturing other means to acquire skills can not only forge careers but add to them.

Your degree alone does not define you. 

Your degree alone does not define you. Extra-curricular can steer you to places the degree title inked on your University diploma may typically take you.

You can support Tim by following him on Twitter, Facebook and donating through JustGiving.com


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