Having left GHS in 2004, I went to Oxford University and had a fabulous few years trampolining, making friends and studying a bit of physiological sciences on the side. My module in infection and immunity piqued my interest in not only the science of health and disease but also the social science that shapes the spread of disease and our ability to control them.
After six months volunteering in Ghana for the West Africa AIDS Foundation, and three months in Zambia for the Zambia Emory HIV Research Group, I headed to Trinity College Dublin where I acquired a taste for whisky and a 1st class MSc in Global Health.
I managed to get my foot in the door of the highly competitive world of International Development with a year-long internship with the medical charity MERLIN which took me to the bright lights of Old Street, London, and Darfur, Sudan, and then stayed in Sudan with an Irish charity called GOAL for a further two and a half years. I started off managing the grants we had with institutional donors (such as the UK’s Department for International Development) but as soon as I could, slipped into the field of Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E). M&E suits me perfectly; using my logical mind and scientific background to look for evidence of what works and apply it for the betterment of aid projects. Sticking in M&E, I took further positions in South Sudan and then Sierra Leone (amidst the Ebola epidemic) before finally coming home to the UK and settling in St Albans. I’ve been back in the UK for five years, and am now Evidence, Learning & Impact Manager for the international children’s charity Plan International UK.
While I still appreciate the clean water, 24-hr electricity, and absence of AK-47s in St Albans, I seem to have swapped challenging lifestyles with sporting challenges. Those of you with good memories might remember that I’m an insulin-dependent diabetic. Having run my first ever half-marathon in 2016 and worked out how to control my sugar levels over the course of 13.1 miles; in 2017 I challenged myself to run a half-marathon a month in aid of Diabetes UK. I succeeded but having given myself shin splints and a stress fracture from over-training in 2018, I then moved to swimming.
In 2019, I raised money for Marie Curie and Cancer Research UK when I successfully completed Swimathon’s Triple 5KM which involved completing a 5KM pool swim – 200 lengths – three days on the trot. Finding myself in the ridiculously fortunate situation of being in lockdown with access to a 14-metre swimming pool (albeit an unheated one), I decided to swim 22 miles (the length of the English Channel) in 22 days. By doing so, I have become Diabetes UK’s top Swim22 fundraiser! By the 2530th length it was getting a little bit boring, but my determination prevailed! Sadly Covid-19 has caused most open-water events to be cancelled, but in September I attempted the Coniston Chillswim – 8.5Km at 15.4 degrees, which I completed in 4hrs 35mins! It was my longest swim yet and I did struggle with the cold, but I managed to carry on to the end
So that’s what’s kept me entertained in the 16 years since I left GHS. They seem to have flown by, but I’m still in touch with many friends from my GHS days, and I hope I remain so for many years to come!
Steph Fisher (Class of 2004)