How long have you worked at the University?

I joined the University as an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Officer in early 2018. I have also held various positions in the Students’ Union when I was studying BSc Economics with Politics at Bath back in 2011. Soon after graduating I joined the University’s Enterprise team, led by the brilliant Siobain Hone based in SETSquared Bath Innovation Centre.

What does your role involve?

While my focus is on collating, preparing and analysing ED&I data, I also support an expanding network of senior ED&I Leads and provide day to day support around Athena Swan to Departments and USAT, led by Dr Marion Harney. I work closely with my manager and Head of ED&I Georgina Brown on a number of ED&I initiatives, projects, and training. Over the last three years I have also been assessing Athena Swan submissions from other Universities as an official Advance HE panellist and acting as a critical friend to HEIs working on their own applications.

What would you most like to achieve at the University?

I know many people prefer a broad answer to this question, but if I can be specific I’d say: 1) helping the University attain its first institutional Athena Swan Silver award, 2) encouraging Departments that are Silver award holders to aim for Gold - we have so much good practice around gender equality across a number of Departments, we can and should be aiming to be the first in the region to receive Gold. I would be lying if I said I didn’t have vivid dreams featuring both of these scenarios!

Can you tell us some background about where you are from and where you grew up?

I grew up in Kaunas, Lithuania. I attended a school that was part of an EU project called ‘Elos’, where we took classes on EU history, had to study at least two foreign languages and at the age of 15 we could apply for student exchange programmes across the EU. I joined four of them - in France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands - staying with ‘host’ families for a couple of months (my parents were horrified!) each time and joining classes with local students.

Did you always plan to come to the UK?

I spent a few months researching various Universities that offered a mix of Economics and Politics studies and picked Bath as my first choice. I had this instant pull towards Bath that I cannot really explain - at that point I have not even been to the UK nor visited the Applicant Days. As soon as I found out I was accepted, I remember driving with my mum to a supermarket at 10pm on a Monday evening to buy a celebratory chocolate cake for my English teacher, who was my biggest supporter. She actually visited Bath in the early 1980s and had a poster of the city in our classroom!

What do you miss about where you grew up?

I am a huge basketball fan so one thing that I miss the most is how the whole country (nearly all 3 million people) seem to disappear whenever an important basketball game is on. You could cut the tension with a knife! The only people wandering around at that point are tourists - everyone else is glued to the TV at home or in a pub!

What attracted you about settling in the UK?

I have met some brilliant people in the UK since the day I arrived - from personal tutors, course mates and lecturers, to later on my managers, colleagues and mentors. After I completed my studies, I started working at one of the investment banks and soon moved to their European HQ in Germany. I spent a year there and then realized that this wasn’t a good fit for me. While I did spend 18 years of my life in Lithuania and on placements across EU, my whole ‘adult’ life was spent in the UK and Bath is a city where I always felt at home.

Can you tell us about your experience of getting either pre-settled or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS)?

I applied as soon as the scheme was launched. My line manager was extremely supportive and kept checking in with me in case I needed help. I don’t know if the readers know this, but majority of applicants are asked to physically send in their passports to the Immigration office to get it checked - I remember being so worried about putting my passport in the envelope and mailing it through the post. George has kept me re-assured that it will be fine. A week later I received an email confirming a settled status was granted. It was really exciting, but I think I felt relieved more than anything. Another week later, I received my passport back - I remember both me and George went to the Edge café for some cake to celebrate the good news.

What would your advice be for anyone who hasn't applied to the EUSS yet, but is thinking about applying?

I would strongly encourage you to do this as soon as you have a chance – I thought the application form itself wasn’t too lengthy and after filling it in, I was surprised how quick the process was. I would also recommend keeping an eye on your inbox - Immigration office reached out to a few of my friends via email asking to provide clarifications. While both of them were granted either pre-settled or settled status, the original emails went to Spam/Junk folders so check these folders regularly to make sure you don’t miss out on any important emails and your status is confirmed promptly.

What’s your favourite saying?

Either one of these:

Sėdi kaip pabučiuotas - Sitting like they were just kissed. This phrase is used to refer to a person who appears to be lost in daydreaming. It’s often used by a teacher in a classroom when someone is not paying attention and is for example looking out of the window.

Šaukštai po pietų - Spoons served after dinner. Meaning: It’s too late to do something now.