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The Real World: Bridgid Nzekwu 'Channel 4 News' presenter

'The university experience made me more confident - a must in my job''The university experience made me more confident - a must in my job'

Bridgid Nzekwu did a degree in European studies at the University of London. She graduated in 1992 with a first.

Why did you choose to study at London university?

Two reasons: Queen Mary College, London had an excellent modern languages faculty and it was close to the Royal London Hospital, where I was having my treatment [for Hodgkin's Lymphoma].

Did you go travelling?

Before going to university I took a gap year but became ill and was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma, a form of cancer. This meant I needed chemotherapy, so instead of travelling I worked part-time as a commercial estate agent. For the first two years of my degree I was having treatment, so working wasn't an option. Getting through chemo and doing my essays was all I could manage! The third year of the course was spent abroad and by that time I was in remission. I taught English at a secondary school and business English at the University of Orléans.

Did you pick your degree with a specific career in mind?

I knew I wanted to be a journalist - specifically in TV news - but I wanted to go to university first. I chose a degree in modern languages because I was good at them and because I loved French literature and film.

How soon after leaving university did you get a job?

I got my first job offer before my finals and started work within a month of leaving university as an editorial assistant and researcher for EPS, a consultancy firm. The job gave me the opportunity to write regularly for the company magazines, travel and do presentations.

Do you still use skills that you picked up at university?

From time to time I use my French, which is near-fluent.

Are you still in touch with people that you studied with?

Yes - I met two of my closest friends at Queen Mary College.

How has your career progressed to the point you are at now?

While working at EPS I did voluntary work at Whitechapel 999 AM - the radio station at the hospital where I had my cancer treatment. For two years I co-hosted a weekly magazine programme called Midweek and also read hourly news bulletins. In 1996 I left EPS and did a postgraduate course in broadcast journalism at City University. I joined ITN in 1997 - my first job in TV was as a producer on The Big Breakfast News. In 1999 I got my first reporter job on Channel 4's First Edition news programme. The next year, after another spell on Big Breakfast News - presenting this time - I moved to my current job at Channel 4 News.

Has it progressed as you imagined it would?

Yes and no. It's a matter of absolute determination and good luck.

Are you glad you went to university?

Definitely. I met some of my best friends, had an amazing year living in France and the experience made me more confident - a must in my job.