“I first heard about Mondrem through a Keele internships email,” Ellie-kay tells me. “Initially, I read through the job description and had a look at the website. As soon as I found out about what Mondrem were about, I knew I would love it.”
A cheery smile forms as Ellie-kay talks about her role at Mondrem. Nothing could eclipse her happiness right now.
“My role combines everything I enjoy. All of my passions and all of my interests have been rolled into one job. I do quite a broad spectrum of things and that’s what I love about it. One minute I’m doing social media work, the next I’m doing project management.
“I like the importance Mondrem place on mental health and happiness. As well as the nature side, which is my passion, I understand the importance of mental health and happiness. Everything I’ve ever done and chosen is because it makes me happy.”
As the dappled sunlight pokes through her caravan awning, we share stories of joyous first impressions.
“Initially I met Mike and Lucy, who were very welcoming and kind. But that’s something I’ve noticed from everyone. I think everyone at Mondrem is really open too. I like to think I fit into that which is what made me really want to get involved.”
A first year Geology and Physical Geography student at Keele University, Ellie-kay has enjoyed a successful start to her degree.
“I hadn’t studied these topics before, but I enjoy collecting fossils and studying rocks, so I knew it was the right degree. Geology is quite structural and there isn’t much room for interpretation, whereas geography allows you to form your own interpretation. I do a lot of walking, and now that I’ve studied geology, I can point things out that I recognise.”
Recently, Ellie-kay won the award for Lead Student Voice Representative of the Year and this award sums up her drive to affect positive change. Prior to her role as a representative for those studying Geography, Geology and the Environment (GGE) at Keele, Ellie-kay has devoted her time to causes connected to her interests.
“Before coming to Keele, I worked at a community hub and I got to help make some key changes. I’ve also volunteered at the Wildlife Trust, which is another reason why I love creating spaces in the outdoors.”
This adoration of outdoor space stems from Ellie-kay’s upbringing.
“I love horse riding, and the adventures that this brings. I’ve had a lot of pets growing up, from chickens to guinea pigs to rabbits and probably about seven horses! I was brought up to be adventurous.”
Growing up, Ellie-kay found that there was a barrier to her education.
“I have dyslexia and I had a massive problem growing up, because nobody would test me. In both primary and secondary school, staff ignored the problem. In fact, one of my teachers told me I was a bit unusual and that I should be tested.
“In the end, my parents had to pay for me to be tested. The way I was dealt with by the school and the time it took for my test was a failing and it caused me so much anxiety and stress. But I am grateful for finding out I have dyslexia.
“I’ve used it as a motivator. Even though I struggle with certain things, most people wouldn’t even notice. I have suffered from mental health issues as a result of this time in my life and finding the support can be really hard. Thankfully, I’m great at asking for help and asking questions.
This struggle in her life has been used as a springboard. Ellie-kay hasn’t let her dyslexia act as a barrier to her education and now she’s thriving on a degree course that she loves.
“I’m motivated by my own gratitude and happiness. I’m always thankful for the opportunities and life experiences that I have. It’s important to me that I enjoy what I do.”