Inside job


17 January 2022

Olivia Webster is the Senior Outreach and Access Officer at Magdalen. Her job is to encourage prospective students to consider Oxford and Magdalen as an option, no matter what their background. Her primary responsibility is to run outreach events. Olivia grew up in Barnsley and, after participating on a UNIQ summer school, she secured a place at Oxford University.

What do you most enjoy about your job?
The best thing is definitely working directly with school students. The message behind all our events is such a positive one – ‘students from all backgrounds have the potential to study anywhere and achieve anything’. It is such a pleasure to be able to spread this message almost every day.

What has been the biggest challenge?
Probably fixing my student sleep schedule so I can arrive for a 9am start. Or figuring out how my pension works which I still don’t really understand. Thankfully I’m thoroughly mothered by everyone in the Grammar Hall office so they’ve helped me with these adulting basics.

I’m a bit of a film fanatic so in my spare time I make amateur short films and music videos

What has been a highlight?
After the student interview period was over, we had a big dinner with all the staff and students who helped out which was very fun and very delicious. The student helpers bought us flowers and chocolates which was really touching because I used to be the student helper buying the gifts and now I was one of the staff they were thanking.

What is your favourite part of College?
There is a bench at the start of Addison’s Walk where you can see the river, the Chapel tower and New Buildings. It’s a lovely place to read during the summer.

What does Magdalen mean to you?
I see Magdalen as a place of opportunity. For me personally, the College took a chance on a fresh graduate to give me my first full time job doing something I really love. Also in a wider sense for the school students I work with, who are aspiring to study here and more than ever before have the chance to do so.

Tell us something about yourself that not many people know.
I have a toy dinosaur on my desk who has become our outreach mascot. We have named him Trevor. My goal is to make him a little T-Shirt to match the ones our student ambassadors wear.


Is there anyone you would like to thank and why?
I’m very grateful for all the support I’ve been given by our Senior Outreach and Access Officer, Ed Dodson. Right from day one he wanted to hear my ideas and opinions which was really encouraging. He’s really helped me settle in and answered all my ‘stupid’ new starter questions. Together we’ve been able to expand and improve what we can offer schools.

If you could go back in time, where would you go?
I studied History at Merton College before beginning at Magdalen and one of my favourite topics was Joan of Arc. So I think I’d probably go back to 1429 France when she helped lift the Siege of Orleans to have a chat with her. If I didn’t get killed in the siege, I’d also quite like to go and hang out in an American movie theatre during the golden age of cinema.

How do you relax?
I’m a bit of a film fanatic so in my spare time I make amateur short films and music videos, including one I’ve written about a failed alien abduction. When I’m not making (or watching) films, I’ll probably be drawing portraits. Maybe unsurprisingly these are usually of film characters…

How would you describe your perfect day?
I’d probably be back in Yorkshire where I grew up with my family and friends having a movie marathon with lots of chocolate and a cup of tea.

Tell us a joke.
What do you call a deer with no eyes? No-eye deer (no idea).