Georgia Stewardson, Class of 2015, is currently a Trainee Journalist working at ITV News.
What was your experience at Manchester High like?
I had a fantastic time at Manchester High. It was definitely hard work, but I knew how lucky I was to be there. Being on a dance scholarship, I was always doing extracurricular’ s outside of lesson time, whether it was running lunchtime dance clubs or choreographing the fashion show. I look back on my school years fondly because I was able to challenge myself and make a real contribution to school life.
How do you feel it helped to shape the person you are today?
Being able to run dance clubs or be in a young enterprise team taught me that you actually can make things happen in life if you are prepared to put the work in. Now I am not scared of new challenges, and I am able to juggle many things at once as I did during school.
Were there any teachers who made a particular impression on you?
Mrs Watkins was a huge part of my life at MHSG being head of dance. I am very grateful for her for putting up with us! In addition, Mrs Heydecker, Miss Martin and Mrs Reynolds made a huge impression on me.
Mrs Reynolds because she was such a dedicated teacher and great form tutor and I will always remember geography as a favourite subject. Mrs Heydecker and Miss Martin were incredible history teachers. I loved history and it was these lessons alongside Model United Nations that ignited my interest in politics, eventually leading me the job I do now. I remember going on a school trip to Westminster in sixth form where we had a group photo by the Emmeline Pankhurst statue. I think of that photo every time I walk past it on my way into work; it is quite surreal.
Are you still in touch with anyone from your time at School?
I’ve stayed in touch with a couple of my best friends from school. Isabel Webb and I lived together in London. We had what you could call a competitive friendship while at MHSG but thankfully, we’ve managed to stay close friends. Orla O’Keefe has been my best friend since Year 7, which hasn’t changed. Naomi Adedokun and I were in the same year at Man High and managed to both do lots of student drama at Bristol University, only to then go and do the same Journalism Masters. We had a photo at our graduation marking 10 years of education together.
What did you do after Manchester High?
I completed a degree in Politics and International Relations at Bristol University, where I graduated with 1st class hons. During my degree, I ran the musical theatre society and was a cheerleader, which was great fun.
After Bristol, I moved to London to do a Master’s in Television Journalism at City, University of London. I did work experience at both Sky News and The Andrew Marr Show during the year, the latter of which I still work at for the live show. It felt so strange given I had watched Marr to get more into politics at school.
For my final project at City, I made a 30-minute documentary about my Mum’s effort to ‘starve’ her terminal cancer. She had been diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer in March 2018, just as I was writing my dissertation at Bristol. Despite it being a very difficult time, Mum found out about a new way of looking at cancer as a metabolic disease, and it turns out that you can use cheap, existing drugs like antibiotics to do this alongside diet and targeted supplements. She embarked on a protocol of cheap, repurposed drugs alongside NHS care, so I decided to make a film exploring the different aspects of her cancer starving regime. I spoke to the experts conducting the pioneering research into cancer as a metabolic disease, as well as those who were not convinced it would work. The entire film was built around Mums story.
I was quite nervous about making a film so personal to me, but thankfully it was well received and we got the highest mark ever for a final project. I was awarded the Richard Wild Prize at my graduation.
Towards the end of last year, I was also lucky enough to win the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme’s Student Broadcaster of the Year 2019. This was mostly due to the film I made about mum’s cancer and I was so humbled to be a part of it.
After City, I got a job as a producer at BBC Breakfast up in Salford, where I worked on a number of stories ranging from new cystic fibrosis medication in Scotland to a debate about toxic masculinity on Love Island with Dr Alex.
I left BBC Breakfast in September after being accepted onto the ITV News Traineeship. I’m the network/national trainee which means I work on the Evening News and News at Ten. The experience has been incredible so far and each day brings a new challenge. I’ve followed an ambulance crew in Newcastle for 12 hours, worked the election overnight programme and been involved in a crash documentary on Harry and Meghan’s decision to step back as senior members of the Royal Family, titled Harry & Meghan: A Royal Crisis. Most recently, I was sent to Heathrow to interview people coming off the last plane from Wuhan, so it’s definitely varied.
I’m hoping to become a Political Correspondent in the future, or potentially a War Correspondent (but don’t tell my Mum). TV Journalism is a very exciting and fast-paced industry so I’m looking forward to what comes next.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
My career is only just getting started but I’d say a highlight was winning the Student Broadcaster of the Year Award from the Today Programme. It was terrifying to make a film about something so personal to my family and me and I was constantly scared of getting it wrong. For it to be recognised in that way, and to be chosen by Mishal Hussein who is an idol of mine, was an amazing moment.
What advice would you give to girls considering your career?
I’d say to just go for it. It does dominate your life, but the rewards are worth it. Also, it’s a really varied career, ranging from political journalism to entertainment and different types of programmes from interview shows to podcasts. If you are wondering how to get started, work experience is the way to go. I wish I had gotten more experience that is relevant while I was still at school.
Who are the inspirational figures in your life?
I look up to female journalists like Elizabeth Day, Marie Colvin, Ranvir Singh, Mishal Hussein and Stacey Dooley. They have all had such different but impressive careers, and I’d love to be as successful as any of them one day. It’s also amazing to see ex-Man High girls doing so well in journalism, from Anushka Asthana to Deborah Joseph.
What are your ambitions for the future?
I hope to become a political correspondent and I would love to cover international news. It would be amazing to be travelling around the world, reporting on the endless stories of people from different cultures and backgrounds. I admire war correspondents, but my mum has forbidden me from doing that one.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Dancing was a huge part of my time at MHSG, and I’ve managed to keep that up by being on the performing arts team at Hillsong Church London. I get to work with professional dancers and be in shows at Wembley and the O2 arena. It’s really good fun.
What achievements are you most proud of in life?
One of the things I’m most proud of is getting a dance scholarship to MHSG. I remember wanting nothing more than going to the School, and it was my only way of getting there. It has set me up for a fantastic life and I know things would have been different if I had not gone to Man High.
I’m also proud of the film I made about my mum’s cancer. It’s been a total journey from her diagnosis to her living a full life with cancer. Being able to tell people about this new way of looking at this disease through an easy to digest film is an achievement. Now we have friends and friends of friends in similar situations asking Mum what she did, which is amazing. I hope that we will be able to get the film commissioned for broadcast and then lots of others can hear about it too.