Seven Questions with... Mary McHarg
9 October 2022
This week Mary, Students' Union UCL's Activities & Engagement Officer, tells us why UCL's Arts and Sciences course was the perfect degree programme for her, how she's contributed to community building via UCL's Societies... and why a model cow is a must for any study space.
What are you studying, why are you interested in this subject and what do you plan to do in the future?
I just finished studying Arts and Sciences – UCL’s best degree! My interests are pretty wide, covering art, media, theatre, and (occasionally) data science. I’m particularly interested in new media forms, like interactive media art and livestreamed shows, and the online communities that grow around them. For me, Arts and Sciences was a no-brainer- I had an absolute blast, not to mention the added bonus that I could write my dissertation on livestreamed Dungeons & Dragons shows.
Right now, I’m the Activities & Engagement Officer at the Students’ Union, which means I’m neck-deep in everything societies, clubs, arts, and volunteering. I’m absolutely loving it and can see myself continuing into art and theatre production if I don’t get into an interdisciplinary art MA course by the time I’m done here!
What is the most interesting thing you’ve done, seen or got involved with while at UCL?
Probably one of Drama Society’s shows – I really loved taking part in the New Writing Festival in particular. I was in a comedy called Mentally Ill Gaysians, which was written and directed by an Asian member of the society (who I’m proud to call my friend!) and featured an all-Asian cast. Coming out of the pandemic, it was the first thing I had done on stage at UCL and revived my love of theatre!
Have you discovered any hidden gems during your time at UCL?
This isn’t so much a hidden gem, as much as just a cool thing – the Arts and Sciences common room. If you’re a student in the department, only you have access to it. There are beanbags, lots of power outlets, a cow. What more could you want?!
For all the non-BAScers looking for an alternative study space, there’s always the Wellcome Collection’s Reading Room (which, although beautiful, doesn’t have a model cow).
Give us your top three things to do/see/go to in London:
- Go axe-throwing with your friends. You can book a session at Skeeters in Hackney Wick – the area has a bunch of nice eateries and pubs too, if you need a drink after all that axe-throwing.
- If you’re a massive nerd (like me), head to MCM Comic Con when it’s on! It’s absolute chaos, but the artists’ corner and plushies are worth a visit alone.
- Stay for sunset (or sunrise) at Primrose Hill. The view is to die for, and it’s a particularly nice park to relax in after a long day/night of studying/partying.
What’s one thing you’d like to see in a post-Covid world?
More hybridity and flexibility when it comes to work and study practices. I particularly like that my current job as a Sabb Officer gives me real flexibility in how and where I work – less commuting means less carbon emissions and a better work-life balance for everyone!
Who inspires you and why?
It’s incredibly soppy of me, but my friends at Sci-Fi and Fantasy Society. I was the President of the society last year and have met my closest friends there over my three years at UCL. Now that I’m no longer on the committee but working full-time in the union, I hear about the amazing things they have in the works all the time, and it’s so humbling (and inspiring!) to think that I played a little part in how the community has grown.
What would it surprise people to know about you?
I may work and study (for the most part) in the arts, but I used to be a massive science nerd – in some ways I still am! Before UCL, my friends and I won a national award for a chemistry project we worked on with Sussex Uni. More impressively, I agreed with my old Chemistry teacher that if I could beat his score at the UK Chemistry Olympiad, he would buy me a Tamagotchi. I beat him, and still have that Tamagotchi to this day.