Rhiain makes successful move to ‘big city’ to gain RGU degree

Rhiain Mackie, from Kirkwall.
Rhiain Mackie, from Kirkwall.

Rhiain Mackie, from Kirkwall, studied business at Orkney College before moving to the “big city” of Aberdeen.

Throughout her management degree, the 24-year-old was faced with a number of personal hurdles, including being diagnosed with focal epilepsy last year.

She said: “The diagnosis came as a bit of a shock. During the seizures rather than have physical shakes, I’m completely aware of what’s going on.

“But my body freezes and I have hallucinations – it’s quite scary.”

In February, just three days before her degree’s final assessment, the graduate was given the “devastating” news that her gran had died, aged 79.

Ms Mackie said: “She was a big part of my life and it all happened very quickly.

“While I had these hurdles in the latter part of my studies, I tried my hardest to power through and I achieved the highest results for coursework I have ever received.

“I showed strength I didn’t know I had.”

Ms Mackie credited a period spent working in Utah in the United States as a highlight of her time at RGU.

For three months, she worked as a camp counsellor for the Kostopulos Dream Foundation, a charity organisation which offers recreational activities and respite for children and adults with physical and learning disabilities.

She added: “The whole experience from beginning to end was unforgettable and the work they do is hugely inspirational.”

She now has plans to remain in Aberdeen, and will return to RGU to study an MSc International Marketing Management in September.

Until then, she will continue to work two part-time jobs within the NHS – a secretarial post with Royal Cornhill Hospital and a healthcare support worker with Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital.