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Student story

Charlotte McGimpsey

20 July 2023

"This honours course is interdisciplinary, allowing me the freedom to study things I love..."


Bachelor of Arts in French and Political Science

Bachelor of Arts with Honours in European Studies

Governance Advisor & Policy Strategist, Wairoa District Council

Charlotte’s love for French from high school motivated her to study the language at UC. Then, after taking Political Science as an interest paper, she found the subject surprisingly motivational and added it to her degree as a second major.

"I really liked French at school so I decided to continue with it at university. I took a few different subjects in first year and my inspiration for continuing with Political Science came from POLS104 (Introduction to International Politics) and an amazing lecturer!"

When Charlotte left high school, she decided to go in a different direction from her friends. She chose to travel from Invercargill to attend UC so she could challenge herself to meet new people.

"I chose Canterbury to be different from the rest of my high school peers, coming here and not knowing a soul was really good for breaking out of my shell.

"The clubs are fantastic and I helped set up UCPols in 2011, and was the club’s first Embeler – or Treasurer! It was a lot of work at times but it was worth the time and effort I put in to see it still flourishing today. As a life member of the club, I still am informed on what is going on throughout the year. It is one of my university achievements that I am most proud of."

Her decision to continue at UC to pursue honours in European Studies came from the opportunity to study a range of topics so she could engage with anything she was passionate about learning.

"I like the variety of courses you can take in a BA. It is nice being able to pursue a diverse range of interests under a single degree. I decided to focus on European Studies because I am interested in such a diverse range of topics and this honours course is interdisciplinary, allowing me the freedom to study things I love."

Charlotte believes that UC has provided her with a great background to pursue any career she sets her sights on. After university, she lived in the UK for a couple of years and worked in local government there.

The opportunity eventually led to her being named a 2015 Commonwealth Young Achiever, for her unique work with UCPols, contribution to the Christchurch rebuild and experience working in government in Europe advocating for youth issues.

She currently works in the Wairoa District Council as a Governance Advisor and Policy Strategist. ‘No two days are the same in local government, I am enjoying being involved in decisions that make a difference to the community I live in,’ she says. ‘My experience in England was really enjoyable and it was neat to be able to use my degree whilst I was on my OE.

"I would love to one day work as a New Zealand diplomat over in France or as an analyst for a government department. There are a ton of opportunities in the policy & governance space and my career path can take so many different roads which is one of the things I love most.

"Continuing with French has provided me with so many opportunities already and it definitely increases the type and number of jobs I can apply for in the future."

Charlotte recommends seeking advice and help as often as possible to help guide assignments and finding research material.

"Take advantage of the liaison librarians, they are the best tool in your research arsenal. When you get stuck researching they can often point you in a direction you had not thought of. Also, take advantage of the office hours lecturers have to go over your assignments so you can improve for next time – they are more than happy to talk through where you slipped up and what you did well."

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