MBE honour for Baptist deacon
Long-standing Baptist church member and deacon Gail Rothnie has been awarded an MBE for her transformative work in helping young people achieve their potential through Higher Education
In her position as Head of Outreach at the University of Birmingham, Gail, a deacon at Carters Lane Baptist Church in Halesowen, works with young people in schools and colleges from communities who are underrepresented in Higher Education (HE). Her team’s role is about raising aspirations, increasing awareness, supporting attainment and helping students to make informed choices.
The team she heads up works with hundreds of young people, typically from areas where there is low progression to HE: they are first generation to go to university, from lower socio economic backgrounds, face cultural barriers or perhaps suffer from disability.
The work begins at primary age, supporting the transition from primary into secondary school, and across the secondary phase through to supported entry into the University, if that is the most appropriate option for them. The team also works with parents and teachers.
While many students eventually progress to the University of Birmingham, many of the young people the team supports go onto other universities regionally and nationally. The team’s activities include intensive programmes, such as the Forward Thinking programme: students join in year 8 and engage in activities and mentoring through to year 11. Six hundred young people from 35 schools are currently involved in this programme.
Gail said she was ‘delighted’ to be appointed MBE for Services to Widening Participation in Higher Education in the New Years’ Honours list.
‘I believe passionately in the transformative effect of education, and particularly Higher Education for all those who have the potential, and the effect that this can then have on their wider families and communities,’ she said.
‘I think about Jodie, from Dudley, now a successful human rights barrister; Joe and many others who have gone onto be successful doctors, dentists and nurses.’
She also spoke of the role of faith in her work. ‘At Carters Lane our mission is ‘Changing Lives, Building Communities’, and I feel privileged that in my professional life too I have been able to work to do exactly this.
‘Proverbs 2:1-10 describes the rewards of wisdom and education: ‘Listen carefully to wisdom, and beg for understanding. Search for it like silver, and hunt for it like hidden treasure. Then you will understand respect for the Lord, and you will find that you know God. Only the Lord gives wisdom, he gives knowledge and understanding’.
‘I hope that my professional work has helped many young people search for their own hidden treasure!’
Image | University of Birmingham