Caroline Stotesbury

BA American Studies. Class of 2009. British Vice Consul at The British Consulate In Houston, Assisting British Nationals Overseas Within Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico And Oklahoma.

Why did you choose to study at Swansea University?

Upon reflection, my decision to study at Swansea was made almost the moment I got off the train from London with my dad for the open day. I remember getting on the coach to tour the campus (back in the day when it was just Singleton) and the welcome I received from the start was so friendly. I also loved how close the campus was to the sea. The course outline was the most interesting I had seen and the professors open to discussion, commentary and feedback.

"I am still incredibly close to friends I made through my part-time job, who were also all students and with a number of my housemates."

What are the highlights of your student days?

I would have to say the friends I made. I am still incredibly close to friends I made through my part-time job, who were also all students and with a number of my housemates. During Covid, our WhatsApp group has been pinging like mad!

I would also have to say the Summer Balls were always a wonderful time and I have so many fond memories of riding the dodgems in front of Singleton Abbey, ending the evening with a few drinks on the beach. My friends and I were also regulars at Woody’s during our time living in Hendrefoelan, and I remember watching many a Wales rugby game (I would support them unless they were paying England – of course!).

The annual Varsity games are also a highlight. I loved the camaraderie of the Swansea supporters, the songs and laughs on the coach ride to/from Cardiff, learning the Swansea chants for the game and then all ending up in Play to celebrate (I think we won 2/3 years I was at Swansea). One year my younger brother came to visit and joined us for a Varsity game – I loved being able to share my university experience with family, and they always had such a wonderful time visiting.

One regret I have is taking the proximity to the Gower for granted, it is such a beautiful place to be and I wish I had spent more time exploring the many beaches and more of what the area has to offer.

What did you do after you graduated? Did you always have a specific career path in mind?

I did not! I was incredibly lucky to be offered a position at Walt Disney World as part of their Cultural Representative Program – a yearlong position working in Epcot. During that year I was able to travel throughout the USA, spending Thanksgiving with friends in Georgia and Halloween in Boston with my parents – meeting so many people from different states and backgrounds. Once I returned, I applied for a position at the US Embassy in London, where I worked for the next 4 years before moving to Texas with my husband.

You are currently UK Vice-Consul for the states of Texas, Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, New Mexico and Oklahoma. Are you able to explain what your role involves?

I am responsible for providing consular assistance to British nationals: in trouble, in hospital or jail. I provide support to family members following a bereavement, child abduction or custody matter and provide advice and assistance following a rape or assault.  I process emergency passport applications, represent the British Government at consular related events and provide consular support in a crisis.

"I am extremely fortunate to be part of a strong network here in the Americas."

Your work includes many sensitive subjects, such as assault and abduction. When things get tough, emotionally, what keeps you going?

I am extremely fortunate to be part of a strong network here in the Americas. There are 9 Consular Offices within the United States and we all support one another, as colleagues and as friends. I also have two wonderful furbabies and a supportive husband. I am a bookaholic and am always reading… any genre as long as it has a beginning, a middle and an end I will read it! I also foster kittens for a local no-kill shelter from time to time, which is an incredibly rewarding experience – hard when the time comes for them to be adopted, but a wonderful feeling all the same.

Caroline Stotesbury with Dr Caoline Coleman-Davies, Deputy Head of the Academic Partnerships Department (Swansea University), at a Red Arrows demonstration and meet and greet in Houston.

Has Covid-19 affected your role?

Covid-19 has meant we have had to adapt. We are no longer able to see those seeking consular support in person, so all assistance is provided through telephone/email.

Has your time at Swansea had any impact on your role?

Over the past year, I have been very fortunate to see the continued development of the Texas Strategic Partnership. I love it whenever a representative from Swansea comes to visit Texas! It gives me the chance to reminisce, find out what is going on with the campus expansions and learn of any news from the area.

Do you have any advice you would like to share with our current students?

Take advantage of everything Swansea has to offer! One regret I have is that I did not join a club/society. I was focused on my studies, which of course is important, but I had housemates who were part of the rugby team, Xtreme Radio, and the Fashion Society, which widened their overall university experience. I wish I had had the confidence back then to join one.

What would you say to anyone considering Swansea as a destination for study?

Swansea University is truly a fantastic place to obtain your degree. The facilities speak for themselves, but the environment, the culture and the experience are what will really make your time there fantastic. The opportunities to enjoy student life are limitless! There are hundreds of societies, extra-curricular activities and some of the most breath-taking local areas to explore.