Jul 30 2021

Third year Geography student, Elena Monreale, recently won the ‘Mary McPherson Essay Prize’. We caught up with Elena to ask more about her essay and what inspired her to write on her chose topic. Read the full interview on the staff intranet. 

1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you study at Royal Holloway?

Hi, I’m Elena and I am going into my third year of Geography at Royal Holloway. After graduating, I would like to do a masters in journalism, hopefully after a gap year if travel restrictions allow!

2. You recently won the ‘Mary McPherson Essay Prize’, congratulations! Can you tell us about your essay?

Thank you! The essay is about whether people should be allowed to protest during lockdown. I wrote about the Sarah Everard vigil and subsequent protests in March surrounding women’s safety, and ‘The Policing, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill’ that, if passed, could allow police action at nonviolent protests.

3. How did it feel to know you’d won?

I was really surprised! I am new to journalistic writing and had never entered a competition before, but decided to try it out. I never expected to, but am really grateful and happy to have won!

4. What inspired you to write about your chosen topic?

There were a lot of protests going on at the time, which was a bit of a contradiction as people were protesting  for women’s safety, while potentially risking their own in terms of coronavirus. I thought it would be interesting to see whether students thought protests should be allowed under the then-lockdown rules.

5. What has been your favourite thing about studying at Royal Holloway?

It’s really hard to narrow it down to one thing. My favourite thing about Royal Holloway when I first visited was the beautiful campus, but I also love the friendly, community feel. I never felt that in school, but I can remember spending my first night here, knowing that I’d made the right choice just from having met my flatmates and everyone in the flat next door! Even over lockdown the university has continued giving us opportunities to talk to new people which is nice. The Geography department are all really friendly and helpful, so overall I’ve had a really positive experience here. I’ll definitely be sad to leave next year!

6. How do you like to spend your time outside of study?

I like spending time outdoors, going out with friends, trying new vegan recipes…and watching Netflix!