Hospitable GCU student is ready for Rio

01 June 2016

Hospitable GCU student is ready for Rio

Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) student Karen Whyte is heading to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games – to showcase her hospitality skills.

The MSc International Events Management student has been selected as a volunteer at the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Hospitality Centre, following support from the University’s Magnusson Awards.

Karen is one of 13 GCU students to receive a Magnusson Award, named after the University’s late Chancellor, the journalist and broadcaster Magnus Magnusson KBE.

Aided by its funding, she will volunteer at the Games, which start on Wednesday 7 September and see athletes from 170 countries compete for 528 medals across 11 days of competition.

Karen, 37, from Newton Mearns, said: “I don’t know if there will be famous people in the Hospitality Centre, but I’ve only one day off, so I’ll be sure to spot them if there are. The Magnusson Award will allow me to gain first-hand experience of working on one of the largest multi-sport events in the world. I hope to learn how volunteers are managed by the event organisers, as they have become fundamental to the success of such large events.”

Karen can call upon previous Rugby, Formula 1 and Golf hospitality experience and prior to studying at GCU, worked as a PA at DF Concerts and as an account manager at creative agency Material, overseeing Tennent’s sponsorship rights at T in the Park.

The mother-of-two has even completed an apprenticeship with the BBC and couldn’t make the Magnusson Award ceremony on Tuesday May 31 as she was in Orkney working on a programme commemorating the World War One Battle of Jutland.

“I’m hardly your typical student – I’m almost 40!” added Karen. “I’ve enjoyed the challenge of learning following such a long gap in my education. It has been helpful having existing work experience skills as I am able to apply them to the theory and I have learned a great deal of invaluable information which will help my future career development.”

Principal and Vice-Chancellor Professor Pamela Gillies CBE FRSE said: “As the University for the Common Good, we are so proud of the achievements that have been made possible over the years through this incredible initiative. The projects will enable the recipients to develop personally or professionally, giving something back to communities around the world.”

Dr Sally Magnusson, daughter of the late Chancellor and Honorary President of the Magnusson Fellowship at GCU, said: “It is wonderful to see the University continuing to nurture students and researchers with such creativity and drive. The 2016 Magnus Magnusson Award winners are no exception and I know that they will make good use of these special grants and act as worthy ambassadors for the University and the Awards.”

Jillian Watt, Director of the Glasgow Caledonian University Foundation, said: “Since the awards began in 2008, in honour of Magnus and his passion for learning, over 60 students have been able to realise their dreams and ambitions. This year was particularly special with the addition of the Sir Alex Ferguson Magnusson Awards.”