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Sports Development Officer, University of Sunderland

The course content was great and the ability to make choices about certain modules allowed to me shape my own experience.

My most memorable experiences from my student days

Some of my favourite memories come from playing rugby league. I think joining the Titans was the best decision I made, it introduced me to the group of lads I was going to spend the majority of my University journey with.

I remember in particular an away trip to Durham, the bus trip back the lads organised a singing contest called the TASC factor. I managed to scrape through the auditions with a stunning performance of ‘Live Forever’. Great times!

Rob Graham playing rugby.

How my time prepared me for my career

I chose to study Sport Development and Physical Education because I wasn’t certain exactly which career path I wanted to pursue. The programme gave a great overview from both a development and education perspective.

The course content was great and the ability to make choices about certain modules allowed to me shape my own experience. What I particularly enjoyed, and maybe what I wasn’t expecting to enjoy as much, were the sociology and psychology modules. This really helped me develop some of the ideas and initiatives that I now have the ability to implement in my professional life.

The academic staff at Leeds Trinity were fantastic - really supportive and personable. I’m still in contact with many of them and I always feel like I can reach out to them for advice or support, even now.

Rob Graham with Sarah Todd and Sheila King.

Rob with Sarah Todd and Sheila King (from our Sports Development Team) during a visit to campus in November 2019

​My career to date

I’ve worked in sport development for several years. My first two years were spent at a college in County Durham working on a Sport England further education participation scheme then from there I accepted an SDO role at the University of Sunderland. My role is predominantly managing the sport volunteering scheme, but I also support some of our BUCS clubs.

Career highlights

A recent highlight for me would be a successful application to the BUCS active fund, in which I was granted £15,000 to deliver an outdoor activity scheme designed to improve students mental health and wellbeing. Upon completion, the project was found to be effective increasing scores on the WEMBS scale significantly. Project delivery has been extended beyond the funding cycle and is now a permanent feature of the student offer at the University of Sunderland.

I have since been approached by local public health partners to discuss how the scheme could be adapted to suit community services.​