Samantha Washington (nee Fox, F 1989-93) was one of the first girl boarders in the Lower School. At the time, there were only 3 female boarders in the Lower Fifth. They lived together in a dorm next door to Miss Cody, who would sometimes sit outside the door after lights out to make sure they had stopped nattering. A William Stewart scholar, Sam went on to St Edmund Hall, Oxford to read PPE. She has worked in the City as a management consultant and then a banker, and is now a newscaster for Sky News.
- When you were at Brighton College, what did you want to be when you 'grew-up'?
Many boarders had Athena posters of semi-naked men on their walls (at least in Fenwick they did). I had an enlarged photocopy of the heart which I'd copied from Gray's Anatomy. My goal was to be a heart surgeon. An irreverent Biology teacher in paisley waistcoats and neon socks, Doctor Pearson, who fed live mice to his cobra in the classroom and allowed me to do my biological drawings lying on the floor was the inspiration.
- What are you now you've grown up?
I'm a mum, a wife, a dog-owner and a news journalist; pretty much in that order of importance. I gave up on the idea of being a surgeon when I decided that 3 years of PPE at Oxford sounded like more fun than 5 years of medical school. It was obviously a deeply held conviction.
- What is your best memory of school?
I was in the first intake of girls into the lower school. So, it would have to be getting up to high jinx with some of the boys. Nothing inappropriate; just pranks mostly. We once threw tipp-ex out of the window and it exploded all over a housemaster's shoes. There was also a teacher who was rude to me once and the boys sent him pizza deliveries at ungodly hours. Those were the halcyon days.
- What was the best piece of advice you were given?
Wear a sports bra for games, probably. "Life is not fair, Fox" which was oft uttered by Mr P. Robinson. And the Royal Sargeant-Major, Chris O'Connell, who was a great friend to boarders also told me once that things which seem important at the time often end up not mattering. I've thought about that a lot since, thanks RSM.
- What do you do /did you do as a career?
I'm now a news presenter for Sky News and was formerly a business presenter and correspondent at the BBC. Before that I worked in the City, (management consulting and then investment banking) which involved hideously long hours , many of which were spent crying in the loos. It did fund a nice shoe collection however.
- What does your job involve?
My job involves having to know a bit more than nothing about pretty much everything. Breaking news can come in on any topic; from bank collapses, to high-profile deaths, from election results to random gunmen being on the loose on the other side of the world. People think newsreading is just reading autocue. It is much more involved than that, but to be fair compared to many types of work, it is a cushy number. Have your hair and make up done, put on a nice frock and read the news. But the work is fast paced, and you're the face to the public, so if you make a mistake it ends up on youtube.
- What are the most challenging parts of your job?
Confrontational interviews are the hardest as the public deserve interviewees, often leading politicians or Chief Executives to be put through their paces, yet you need to be polite and fair as well as tough and dogged. You have to appear calm when everything is falling apart around you, be able to speak while you have a voice permanently in your ear and just accept that you will get criticisms about how you look. You also get odd letters from people sometimes; I received one from someone who wanted to know the size of my feet and another wanting a photo of my legs.
- What have you done that you are most proud of?
I'm a mum to 3 young children. I wouldn't profess to doing the job very well, but I try my best, and they're happy and healthy kids. So far...
- What is the single thing that would most improve the quality of your life?
Noise cancelling headphones
- What are the three objects you would take with you to a desert island?
A radio for Radio 4 mostly; a never ending supply of Super Tuscan or burgundy reds and my huge Bernese Mountain Dog, Wellington (does he count as an object?)
- How would you like to be remembered?
As fiercely intelligent, timelessly elegant, earth mother ........ which I suppose means I wouldn't be remembered very accurately, or by people who knew me properly. A good egg would also cut it.