Student Stories

Jeffrey Hongming - University of Central Lancashire

Make Your Mark Ambassador

School was not a positive experience for Jeffrey. Struggling with his identity, bullies targeted him. Today the school bullies are long gone, but what they took with them was much of Jeffrey’s confidence.

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“In all honesty I felt I had little hope in my life until I met my lecturers and tutors at Lancashire University. They offered me advice and supported me all the way through my campus journey. They gave me courage - to be who I am and pursue what interests me,” says Jeffrey.


Jeffrey’s journey hasn’t all been plain sailing though. With a loud inner critic and an aspiration to be a professional success, Jeffrey engaged in an eye-wateringly expensive career and development “coach” to help him write better job applications and strengthen his interview performance. In the end these promises turned out to be as empty as Jeffrey’s wallet.


“It wasn’t a professional coaching  experience,” says Jeffrey. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the experience left him confused about coaching, which is why when his work colleague, friend, and Make Your Mark Ambassador, Emily Mason, spoke to Jeffrey about taking up the offer of a free-to-attend place on Susan’s Winter School he was, let’s just say, incredibly suspicious.


“If it wasn’t for Emily, I would never have taken the Winter School place,” says Jeffrey who admits he has much to thank her for. “She really understood me and my situation, she convinced me that participating in Winter School was genuinely free, that she had done it herself and thought it would be beneficial to me. So, I trusted her - she’s helped me make good choices.”


Winter School transformed Jeffrey’s view of the true power and impact of professional coaching.


“There were so many things I learned and took from this Make Your Mark Winter School programme, especially around treating my inner critic fairly and giving me confidence in my voice,” says Jeffrey.


Most recently, as part of his graduate placement, Jeffrey presented to 15 managers, including his line manager.


“I implemented some confident body postures and other techniques to stabilise my emotions and deliver with a calmer voice,” says Jeffrey.


“Afterwards I received very good feedback from my line manager who said I’d spoken clearly, and that he could see my confidence had improved. It was Winter School that introduced me to this learning, and I know it’s learning I will continue to use going forwards.”


Jeffrey shares that the experience of attending Winter School was as positive as the learnings he took from it.


“I’m not an extrovert we’ve had the pandemic and I’ve moved from studying in Lancashire to working in Scotland – I’ve spent lots of time alone. My inner critic is often noisiest when speaking in front of a lot of other  people, that can make me fearful.”


Winter School was a challenge for Jeffrey from that respect; joining a large group of other young people all encouraged to actively participate and openly contribute as part of the wider group.


“The programme’s professional coaches, Susan and Tracy, are brilliant. They always made me feel comfortable and encouraged me to be myself. They were great at encouraging me to speak up and ask questions, I felt empowered by that. It was lovely to see them role modelling the content they were sharing too. Just watching how they engaged everyone really helped me a lot. This programme is quite inspirational. It motivates you to think for yourself and it really helped me reflect on my own journey.”


Having completed Winter School Jeffrey was keen to become a Make Your Mark Ambassador – a voluntary role that sees him advocating to make professional  coaching more accessible to young people. There were multiple reasons he was keen to become involved, which he beautifully describes as the pieces of a pie chart. The biggest slice, he assigns to wanting to give  back.


“Susan and Tracy have been giving back with this programme and I now want to give back too. My initial experiences with what I was led to believe was coaching weren’t good and I don’t want other young people to experience that. Professional coaches, like Susan and Tracy, provide something of great value. Coaching can help you find your place, develop your self-awareness, inspire you to think. It offers you the time and space to consider all those important things that are hard to make time for in our busy lives.”


Jeffrey Hóngmíng received a first-class honours degree in Accountancy from the University of Central Lancashire in 2021. He is currently living in Edinburgh, having secured a place on the graduate programme of one of  the UK’s leading banks. He’s using the rotational aspect of this  placement, which sees him experiencing different business areas, to better understand what he’s good at and enjoys. He’s already started to establish himself as something of an Excel superuser and greatly enjoys  financial analysis and design. Jeffrey attended Winter School 2022 and became a Make Your Mark Ambassador shortly after. His ultimate ambition is to become an entrepreneur.

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"Everything about Make Your Mark for students is inspirational and continues to motivate me to be a better version of myself."

— Jeffrey Hóngmíng, University of Central Lancashire