Meet RGU's University Challenge Team!

By Clara Maurillon - 25 November 2022

A team of four RGU students will be appearing on BBC Two's University Challenge on Monday 28 November at 8.30pm to face the University of Roehampton. This is only the second time RGU is taking part in the show since our first appearance in 1994. Learn more about the team before finding out if they made it to the next round!

Emily Cullen (TEAM CAPTAIN)

Emily Cullen studied Pharmacy and is now a Trainee Pharmacist at Southmead Hospital in Bristol: 

“I was obsessed with going on University Challenge, and all a person thinks about while the participation is still embryonic is how you/the team/the match will appear on telly. But I can say hand on heart that the relationships we formed as a team made these concerns seem insignificant.”

Trivia strengths and weaknesses

“We always worked best as a team and never had any specialist, whatever we could chip in was worthy. For my own part I love the art history questions, geography and history ones and I would properly roll my eyes at subjects I have actually studied like physics and pharmacy. Plus, we’re a music team, music bonded us, and when Paxman says ‘for your music starter you’ll hear a piece of popular music…’ we get extremely excited.”

Hobbies

“Hobbies is a crazy broad question to ask Uni Challenge contestants… in the past year I’ve been immersed in the novels of JG Farrell, the influence of the romance poets on modern tourism and the three witches of MacBeth.” 

Pre-show

Samuel fregene

Samuel Fregene studied a master’s in Analytical Science, with a specialisation in drug analysis and toxicology. He is now looking for a job where he can apply the skills he learned at university. He is the first international student from Nigeria on University Challenge:

“In Nigeria, I took part in a lot of competitions representing my school. So, when I saw that there were calls for University Challenge I thought this would be a good opportunity to represent RGU. My course leader Dr Carlos Fernandez believed so much in me and used to tell me that he sees more in myself than I do. That pushed me to get involved.

“Most of the questions on the show were generally related to things that are happening in Europe and in the UK especially. Coming from Nigeria and being able to audition for the show and answer those questions made me really proud. But everyone in the team did a good job and really inspired me as well.”


Trivia strengths and weaknesses

“My biggest strength was science! I have loved science since I was a child. I used to work as a Scrum Master in Nigeria and also as a Virologist, which gave me a good knowledge of science over the years. My weakness was literature, but Faye was very good. It’s not that I didn’t know anything about it, but she was definitely the expert.

"I also love entertainment a lot, music and football. And politics. Basically everything but literature!”

Hobbies

"I love playing chess and listening to music, especially gospel and classical music such as Mozart and Beethoven, all the classics. I love the sound of the violin."

Faye Cooke

Faye Cooke studied for a Diploma in Professional Legal Practice, after completing the accelerated LLB in 2021. She studied online for both degrees as she was working in Edinburgh as a Librarian at the time. She is now two months into her legal traineeship with a Law Firm in Edinburgh.

“I have a two-year-old son so studies, work and Zoom quiz practice had to fit in and around his schedule. It’s funny to think he might watch it back in years to come and be filled with pride, embarrassment or (most likely) indifference.”

Trivia strengths and weaknesses

“My first degree was English Literature, so I prefer arts and humanities subjects. Sadly, you don’t get many Scots law questions on University Challenge! Science and maths are my weaknesses but thankfully the rest of the team made up for that.”

Hobbies

“I like being outdoors: on my bike, at Portobello beach, hill walking… I enjoy reading what you might call ‘literary’ fiction and writing what you might call ‘bad’ fiction. At the risk of sounding middle aged, cooking, gardening and HBO are up there too.”

Donald ANderson

Donald Anderson studied Accounting and Finance and is now working as an Auditor at KPMG.

"When I was watching the show, I emailed the Student Union on a whim after hearing Jeremy Paxman mention to get in touch with them if you’d like to take part.  I kind of forgot about it for a while until I heard back and got in touch with Emily, so I had no expectation of auditioning for the show, never mind actually getting on it. It goes to show the importance of giving things a go. I’m really glad I did, not just because we made it on the show but also because I wouldn’t have gotten to know such great people otherwise."

Trivia strengths and weaknesses

"I don’t know if there is one subject area that’s my favourite, but I know a little bit about history, politics, economics, and maths. Some definite weaknesses of mine are anything to do with food and drink or fashion – I just forget everything I hear.  

"I think between us we had a really good range of knowledge and we each knew things the others didn’t. It was nice to be able to shrug my shoulders during questions about art or amino acids and know that I didn’t have to make a stupid guess because my teammates knew much more than I did."

Hobbies

"Aside from pub quizzes, I enjoy hiking and playing the bagpipes. I volunteer as a Cub Scout Leader, and I’ve recently been getting into poker."

 

Studio-selfie

iNGRID TAYLOR (reserve team member)

Ingrid Taylor is a third-year Applied Biomedical Science student.

“I watch Alumni University Challenge with my mum and dad every Christmas to see if we can beat the teams. So when I saw Emily’s post about putting a team together for the show, I thought it would be nice to get involved.”

Trivia strengths and weaknesses

“I would say strengths would be nature questions, about types of birds and animals. I’ve always been interested in conservation so that’s where my knowledge comes from. I also know a lot about Olympic sports, but not football.

“My weakness would be art. I’m not great at knowing who painted what. And, actually I’m a bit embarrassed to say that, but Royal History as well. I know when events took place but I’m not great at knowing about Kings, Queens and Dynasties.”

Hobbies

“I would have said before studying, I had quite a lot of hobbies but between university and work, I don't have much time for anything. But I am a big hillwalker. I also really enjoy yoga and travel. Before COVID, I would make a point of visiting Scottish islands that I hadn't been to yet, and also try go to somewhere new abroad. Next year, I will be going to Liechtenstein.

“Aside from my study, I am a cleaner at RGU actually. I do early shifts. I also do stage crewing, which is setting up the stage for big music events as well as the lights and take it all down after the shows. I also work once a week at the curling rink in Aberdeen”.

Celebrations

The team practised for the show by watching episodes together on Zoom, making their televised round on Monday the first time all of them had met in real life and done a quiz as a team! But that didn’t stop them from connecting, Emily shares:

“It was beyond beautiful the bond that formed between myself, Donald, Faye, Samuel and Ingrid and we’d all have happily failed miserably in our endeavours if it meant we still got to meet each other and become friends for life.”

Don't forget to tune in at 20.30 on Monday 28 November to cheer for them! And if you miss it, you can always watch it later on BBC iPlayer.

 

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