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Shayne Halfpenny-Ray's story.

Shayne Halfpenny-Ray studied BA Politics and Global Governance after coming to Canterbury Christ Church University through Clearing. He graduated with a first-class degree, and is now a Policy & Public Affairs Adviser for the Chartered Insurance Institute.

Shayne Halfpenny-Ray
Shayne Halfpenny-Ray

It is safe to say the beginning of my university journey was a little rocky. I left college with lower grades than I had wanted and without any intention of going to university.

But after 6 months of working as an estate agent, I decided to give Higher Education a chance. I can happily state there isn’t a day goes by where I regret that choice and where it has got me in life.

I entered Christ Church through Clearing as my application came in a little late, but I liked the look of their offering for Politics, and I had heard Canterbury was a beautiful place to live and study. After a bit of online research, I went all in and the University found me my place in the Politics and IR faculty.

I studied Politics and Global Governance for three years, with some of the best lecturers in the country (and beyond), and received the best political education I could ask for, graduating with a first-class degree with honours.

Outside the lecture halls and seminar rooms, I met wonderful people who I shared the best of times with, one of whom I fell in love with. We now share a home, a life and are raising our beautiful daughter together.

Studying at Christ Church felt like having one big family, with a small but vibrant town to explore together, in a wonderful part of the country. I couldn’t recommend the experience enough.

University is whatever you make of it, and I found Christ Church gave back whatever I was prepared to put in. I worked hard and I tried to get involved with as many activities as possible.

I was lucky enough to secure two paid internships, as well as some voluntary research work, which set me up for my career. During my time I also held two part time jobs, one of which was for the Christ Church Outreach team (now called the School and College Engagement team), another fantastic experience I would recommend to future and current students alike.

Higher education changed the way I saw what I could accomplish in life. It gave me a taste of a variety of options and opportunities, not just in the political sphere, and gave me the tools I needed to go out and craft my own career. Without it, I don’t know where I would have ended up.

Once leaving university I worked as a policy researcher and event organiser across energy, environment and transport policy. This led me to working in the nuclear sector in public affairs and communications. I am now the Policy and Public Affairs Adviser at the Chartered Insurance Institute.

I was able to do this because, while my research and work experience at university gave me an affinity for energy and environmental policy, the degree developed transferable skills and knowledge. This has allowed me to be flexible in my application of knowledge and experience, meaning I was able to transition from different sectors almost seamlessly.

Some of my key responsibilities at work are advising senior management on Parliamentary and external engagement matters; forecasting policy and regulatory development; showcasing best practice across the profession; running an All-Party Parliamentary Group; and mostly proudly, chairing a workstream within a Working group looking at improving access to insurance for people with disabilities and long-term illnesses.

None of which I imagined I would find myself doing before, during or even after university, but my experience at Christ Church and since then has led me to embrace new and exciting avenues of work and thought, so I have yet to feel daunted by these tasks.

My ambition is to continue to build and develop my knowledge and understanding of Financial services whilst also creating my own network of contacts, to allow me to rise in the ranks.

Christ Church gave me the tools, the experience and the support I need to set myself up for success. My life both professionally and personally was forever changed the day I was accepted, and I will always be grateful for what it has done for me.

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