Robyn Donoghue is a communications specialist working in the third sector who is also a graduate of Abertay University and a former President of our Students’ Association. We spoke to Robyn about her time at Abertay, her passion for volunteering and her recent appointment to Abertay’s Court, the University’s Governing Body.
Can you tell us a bit about your background and your early life?
I hail from Dundee and grew up in the city. I’ve always loved that there is space to explore parks, beaches and lots to see and do in our wee city. In hindsight I was lucky to come of age as institutions like Dundee Contemporary Arts were first opening their doors. I was a big fan of Sunday morning cinema trips from an early age.
You were a student at Abertay from 2010-2014. What attracted you to study at Abertay?
When coming to the end of my school days I was a bit overwhelmed at the idea of moving away from my hometown and on visiting the Abertay campus I felt very welcome. For me studying at Abertay allowed me to come to higher education at my own pace. Studying within the Sociology Division it was quickly apparent that this course of study suited my interests of asking questions and being curious.
What is your fondest memory of your time at Abertay?
I enjoyed finding like-minded people through my studies and through my involvement with the Students’ Association who were keen to get involved in shaping our learning experience.
You were President of Abertay’s SA – what was that experience like? What were your biggest achievements/challenges in that role?
Having volunteered as a class representative and then as a one of the student Executive Officers it wasn’t such a big jump to take on the President role. The year gave me an insight into so many aspects of Abertay and the partners connected to the university. For the Students’ Association we were able to expand the staff team and focus on building mechanisms to support students.
Since graduating from Abertay, can you tell us a bit about your career?
In my fourth year at Abertay I took part in a module called Community Links. Through a placement with LGBT Youth I dipped my toe into the third sector and this really confirmed the direction I wanted to go in for work. I then worked for Young Scot supporting a panel of young people in distributing funding awards to youth arts project across Scotland. This set me up to continue to work in the arts while at Dundee Rep and Scottish Dance Theatre. I loved working with creative practitioners to support projects that focused on community arts and bringing new audiences into the theatre.
For the last few years I have been working with Dundee Volunteer and Voluntary Action which has allowed me to have an oversight of the thriving third sector in Dundee. My role has included supporting charities and community groups by connecting opportunities and distributing grant funding.
Has volunteering always been a passion of yours?
Alongside work I have volunteered with projects that are important to me. I was involved with Women of the World Festival Perth, a programme of events to educate and inspire as part of a global feminist network.
Why do you think more people should volunteer? What are the benefits to both the individual and society?
Volunteering is a way to play a part in something that’s important to you. Giving some of your time or skills is of huge value to charities or community groups and allows you to connect with others who are passionate about the same things.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting to volunteer?
It’s important to find a type of volunteering that suits you and allows you to get involved around other commitments. If you’re not sure it’s the right opportunity for you ask to shadow an existing volunteer before committing.
Why did you apply to join Abertay’s Court?
I was keen to reengage with the Abertay community and bring my experience to Court.
What do you hope to get out of your time serving on the Court?
I’m looking forward to finding out more about the experience of staff and students at Abertay and being part of sharing the university for the future.