Sarah Rogers is helping students discover opportunities to develop themselves personally and professionally during their higher education journey at the University of Southampton. She is coordinating a holistic approach to enhancing student experience through the direction of the Southampton Opportunity initiative and the student-driven OPUS website. She has benefited from over a decade’s work placed in varied teams, departments and faculties at the institution since a promising start to her career in publishing and management.
Sarah was raised in the Norfolk Broads and developed a love for writing and art in her youth which she has nurtured through to the present day. She studied History of Art at the University of East Anglia and was pointed towards magazine publishing and a fulfilling work placement through a first-hand example of positive student experience management. After supplementing her degree with a postgraduate certificate in publishing in London, she spent a year working in the capital for a gardening magazine.
Her next opportunity presented itself back in Norfolk in a post with Saab vehicles’ customer magazine, where she developed her skills beyond the editorial department and into account management. “It was a really pivotal role in terms of my own development as it opened my eyes to the global aspects of running a business,” Sarah says. “I got to see how everything worked and really manage the whole process; from the beginnings when documents were coming into my inbox, right through the file being sent to the printers in 21 different language editions. It was a fantastic office with a brilliant team and I enjoyed it thoroughly throughout.” A successful two-and-a-half years with Saab was completed with the publishing team having expanded to encompass an additional magazine.
Sarah moved to Southampton in 2003 to fill a project management role at the University’s Winchester School of Art, and helped advance the structure and education profile of the organisation during a transitional year for the school. Having established a positive presence at the University, she then implemented a new strategy as a Learning and Teaching Coordinator in the Faculty of Law, Arts and Social Sciences and spent two years working as a Recruitment and Admissions Project Manager for the whole institution. Between 2006 and 2009, Sarah served as an Employability Coordinator for the then Faculty of Engineering, Science and Mathematics which included helping the set up of the South East Physics Network (SEPnet), which continues to support students today through Clare Bodimeade.
Focusing on students’ experiences of integrating into higher education, Sarah spent her next two years developing initiatives such as student buddying schemes as the University’s Transition to Living and Learning Project Manager. “I’m really glad that I’ve had the experience of starting in an academic unit, focusing on a particular faculty and then going on to university-wide projects with a greater overview,” she says. “I’ve been able to develop an enormous amount of knowledge and experience as well as a great network that I can bring together for a truly holistic view of the student experience.”
Sarah’s current post as a Project Manager of Southampton Opportunity is directing students to development opportunities inside and outside of their curriculum. “I’m very keen to help students understand and appreciate the academic, enterprise, research, career and professional, plus personal and social opportunities that are available to them at university,” she says.
The opus.soton.ac.uk website (short for Opportunities at the University of Southampton) is a student-led resource profiling hundreds of opportunities for students across the institution. “University should be a really transformative experience for students,” Sarah explains. “You get to really find out who you are as a person and develop, and OPUS is all about the opportunities that encourage this to happen.”
Sarah has recently been writing a business case to evaluate how the University can do the best possible job of supporting student entrepreneurship. “Southampton has an awful lot to offer students around supporting enterprise and entrepreneurship development,” she adds. “We have fantastic student societies, the social impact lab offering social entrepreneurship opportunities, a strong careers service offering advice and guidance to students and – of course – Future Worlds, which is now offering engagement opportunities and advice in a very innovative way.”
Sarah would like to speak to staff and students to explore stronger student development opportunities around enterprise and entrepreneurship. “If you’d like to contact me, we have funding, energy and ideas that we can work with you on to take these forward,” she says. You can get in touch with Sarah by using the form on this page.
In her spare time, Sarah continues to invest time in hobbies that she started by seizing her own opportunities in her student days. Her evergreen passion for art is channelled through regular watercolour paintings and some of her work is even on display in a gallery in Norfolk. Her sketches of the Norfolk Broads can also be seen as a series of illustrations in a murder mystery series written by her step-dad.
Sarah recently became an alumna of the University of Southampton through completing a Masters in Education last year and is looking forward to continuing to use her talents to make a difference for staff and students at the institution.