Unsung heroes at University of Reading – International Women’s Day

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International Women’s Day is a really amazing time to hear about some of the brightest and most accomplished women in the world and to celebrate their impact. Such figures may even come to mind when you’re asked about a role model and who you want to be like when you’re older. But what about the unsung heroes that are all around us? Strong, independent, dedicated, passionate women without whom this university couldn’t run so smoothly.

  1. Erika Wong, Careers Administrator

On top of her dedication to the University of Reading, Erika is the deputy director of Reading’s Chinese school which educates children from younger years all the way to A-Level qualification in Cantonese and Mandarin. She has educated children for over 20 Years, and is more than happy to pass on some of her cultural knowledge to the Careers team.

Her colleagues have said “She is someone who is always happy to help, even when she might be busy, dedicates herself to multiple causes, and balances this by also being incredibly kind. We’re very lucky to work with Erika.”

2. Sarah Shears, Support Centre Head

Alongside leading the Support Centres at the University of Reading, a hugely demanding role, Sarah has always made time to help people in her free time. She has been active in the Rotary Club for a number of years; even organising the Rotary Youth Leadership Award in Thames Valley, which allows young people the opportunity to build their confidence, problem solving skills, and develop their leadership style.

She has always prioritised people, being a lifeguard for over 10 years, and her colleagues have said, “Sarah is incredibly inspirational and we’ll never know how she balances everything!”.

3. Karen Henderson, Director of Technical Services

Despite Karen’s incredibly demanding role, she still finds time to prioritise people. From organising yoga sessions for her colleagues’ wellbeing, to encouraging them to apply for prestigious awards in their field. During the pandemic, Karen immediately stepped up to help a colleague set up an asymptomatic test site, for which they only had two weeks, on top of her existing role. She put an enormous amount of work into ensuring that everyone was trained properly and quality assurance was documented to industry standards, and that students would be safe. She particularly champions women and plays an active role in the Women@Reading network, most recently helping to establish the Women’s Health Café.

Her colleagues have said “you might think that someone at Karen’s level wouldn’t fit the definition of ‘unsung’, but that’s not true: she is never in the limelight and never seeks recognition for the amazing things that she does.”

4. Tina Bhati, Placements Administrator

Tina is the definition of dedicated; doing multiple jobs which all help people. She is an incredible artist, humble despite her impressive repertoire of exhibitions, residencies and awards, and a passionate advocate for people with autism. She is a guest blogger for Employment Autism, an Employment Consultant for AS Mentoring (where she mentors autistic individuals to help them find suitable jobs and navigate the workplace adjustments that could help them), and also helps to train health and care staff to improve their understanding of autism. She has won a plethora of accolades, including being recognised as one of the ‘Top 50 Influential Neurodivergent Women’ by Women Beyond the Box.

Her colleagues have described Tina as “inspirational. Her passion and dedication astounds me, and I love hearing her speak about what she’s passionate about. She’s been an invaluable source of help and understanding, whilst still being one of the most down to earth and humble people out there”.

There you have it- just four of the hundreds of women across our campuses who are doing incredible things behind the scenes every day. We hope this shows our students that there’s always time for your passions, and that you can utterly inspire those around you, even if they don’t always say so!

Why not tell the women close to you how they inspire you this International Women’s Day? Head to our other blogs for more inspirational women at the University of Reading who are doing some incredible research.

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