It’s fair to say that Elizabeth McNeil made the most of her time at King’s. Captivated by the Foundation Year Program (FYP), she majored in Political Science while taking every opportunity to expand her field of study at the same time.
“The biggest thing for me as an undergraduate at King’s was access to an incredible variety of thought… I took German Romanticism, I took Theory of the Avant-Garde, I took Opera in the Enlightenment, I went to China for a semester because I wanted to go to business school in Beijing!” she reminisces.
Nowadays, alongside a successful career in customer loyalty, Elizabeth volunteers, recently co-founded a non-profit and has plans to write a book, showing the same passion and enthusiasm for life that she had as an undergraduate.
“King’s makes you a really well-rounded person.” she says. “(it) really gives you a structure, not just for getting your work done and how that translates to being an adult and going to work 9-5, but also in giving you so many opportunities to experience and discover where you really get joy.”
Elizabeth certainly found joy at King’s. She describes her excitement at being able to “learn for the sake of knowledge,” as she relished every opportunity to debate and discuss texts and books with her peers in the Wardroom. Together, they learnt to ask questions and to think critically. “For me, it was about finding a baseline and structure for how you view the world,” she says. “I loved that at King’s you were constantly in a state of questioning.”
Outside of the classroom, Elizabeth embraced extra-curriculars. “Some of the best theatre I’ve ever seen was in The Pit… not to mention the music, the literary readings, the lectures, and the Classics in the Quad.” She fondly recalls being allowed to use the Prince Hall kitchen to make brownies and cupcakes for her peers and serve them at lunch; “you would never get that experience anywhere else, I don’t believe,” she smiles.
Since graduating from King’s, Elizabeth and her peers have embarked on immensely different career paths. “Most of my friends are in the arts, or in public policy, or in the sciences,” Elizabeth explains, while she has found her passion in loyalty and customer relationship management. “We all took the same program, we all studied the same books, and we all went in incredibly different directions with it.”
Elizabeth attributes this diversity to the unique structure of learning at King’s. Learning how the texts you were studying permeated across disciplines and into different world views, according to Elizabeth, was “hugely influential”.
And she has carried those discussions with her throughout life. “All those moments at King’s when you were taught to question things and to ask about why things are the way they are,” is particularly important in today’s world, she explains.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Elizabeth found herself continually going back to her baseline and structure that she established all those years ago.
For Elizabeth, the pandemic has provided time to reflect and re-evaluate, which has included re-reading FYP texts and working on plans for her own book. In this searching, she is constantly reminded of her King’s experience, which afforded her so many opportunities and avenues to learn, absorb and think critically.
“King’s influences me a huge amount to this day,” Elizabeth says, not only in how she views the world, but in how she determines what to value in life.
Posted: November 2020