Student Stories

Katey Cheung - Surrey University

Make Your Mark Ambassador 2021/22

Final year psychology student, Katey Cheung, wants a career that enables her to bring about positive change in the world and for those she’s working with.

Currently in her final year at the University of Surrey, her ambition is to become an educational psychologist.

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“Taking psychology at A-Level was a real stroke of luck because I really ended up enjoying it. The more I got into psychology, the more I wanted to learn.”


Katey’s currently weighing up her next steps. She’s either looking for a role that will help pave the way to her becoming an educational psychologist or to advance her learning yet further with a Master’s in Education – ideally at UCL or King’s College London.


Educational psychology offers Katey the opportunity to bring about that positive change she wants to see. “I’d be involved in helping children secure the educational support they need to succeed,” says Katey.


As a student of psychology Katey is already well versed with many theoretical concepts that form part of a coach’s toolkit, but what she loved about Make Your Mark for students was how the programme’s hosts, Susan Room and Tracy Sinclair, were able to bring those concepts to life and make them practical.


“Susan and Tracy are both such knowledgeable coaches and worked so well together. They ran role play sessions together to illustrate points. These sessions were especially memorable and led to some great debate and discussion in the group afterwards,” says Katey.


It was that dialogue between participants that added such value to the programme. “Those short role-plays were a great way to engage people and get them contributing. On this programme the more you participate, the more you personally gain and benefit others. Sharing your own thoughts prompts others to think about something they may not have considered before, to hear or adopt a new perspective.”


Of the four modules, Katey’s favourite was the one on speaking habits.


“I became far more aware of how I speak and how that doesn’t always help me.”


Her biggest realisation was her reliance on ‘filler’ words, like ‘like’!


As an Educational Psychologist Katey will need to interact with children but she’ll also need to influence a range of other professional stakeholders if she wants to make a positive difference to a child’s life by securing the support they’ll need.


“There are times I’ll need to give formal presentations or talk when it will be important for me to sound professional. The words I use impact how my audience perceives me. That was an important reflection I made.”


But since the programme Katey has also realised that learning has impacted more than her speech, it’s improved her writing as well.


“In psychology I write a lot of essays. The role of an educational psychologist also involves a lot of writing – reports, assessments, recommendations. What I’ve subsequently realised is that much of the time, I write how I speak. The filler words I use may be slightly different, so instead of saying ‘like’ I may write ‘such as’ or ‘for example’, but when I looked at my written work, I could see they were there. Fillers, whether written or spoken, just add unhelpful noise to what you want to communicate and make you less impactful.”


Having completed Winter School Katey has gone onto become a volunteer Make Your Mark Ambassador, which sees her sharing her experiences of coaching and encouraging her peers to engage with it; including signing up for a free-to-attend place on the next Make Your Mark student school.


“There are coaches out there offering free taster sessions, but you quickly discover their programmes cost thousands. That’s just not affordable to me as a student and those taster sessions feel more like adverts,” says Katey.


“I’ve not seen anything like Make Your Mark offered by a coach before – a free-to-attend programme that gave me the opportunity to experience group coaching over a number of extended sessions. It feels so unfair that coaching’s really only available to those who can afford it. Having done this programme myself, I just wanted to take my learning further, to get involved behind the scenes and encourage other young people to grab this opportunity.


“As an ambassador I also get additional one to one and group coaching, but I’m also given some of the skills to become a coach. That’s of interest to me. I can see how that will complement my psychology and be useful in my future career, even if I’m not going to become a coach. You can apply coaching’s skills and learnings to any area you work in, indeed to a conversation in any area of your life. It’s useful wherever you go. I’m just so grateful to Susan, to Tracy and to the person at Mind who nominated me to experience this programme, thank you.”


Katey Cheung is in her final year at the University of Surrey studying psychology. She is also a part of Mind’s Youth Voice Network - a role that involves public speaking and recently saw her talk at a conference about how the pandemic has affected her as an East Asian student. Katey participated in Winter School 2022 and became a Make Your Mark Ambassador in March.

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"You can apply coaching’s skills and learnings to any area you work in, indeed to a conversation in any area of your life. It’s useful wherever you go."

— Katey Cheung, University of Surrey