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Aggie MacKenzie

CertHE Psychoanalytic Psychology

TV star Aggie MacKenzie – co-presenter of Channel 4’s hit show How Clean is Your House? and presenter of ITV’s Storage Hoarders – chose to study at Birkbeck to satisfy her intellectual curiosity.

Aggie decided, aged 53, to return to education when her elder son was preparing to leave home for university. Having missed out on higher education after her schooling, Aggie felt she was ready to resume studying.

She said: 'I wasn’t sure exactly which subject I wanted to study and was wavering between anthropology, sociology and psychology, so I went to a Birkbeck open evening to find out more. The lecturers were really helpful and I chose to apply for a Certificate of Higher Education in Psychoanalytic Psychology. It was also a lovely surprise to come across Jane Nicklin, one of Birkbeck’s microbiologists, at the open evening. I first met Jane when working on How Clean is Your House?'

Initially Aggie was apprehensive about essay writing, but with encouragement from her tutor she eventually overcame these worries. She said: 'I completely immersed myself in my studies, and the sense of achievement at the end was fantastic.'

'I enjoyed the lectures. It is very stimulating when a good lecturer is able to explain a complex concept in an accessible way. Studying stretches your mind, and you get to use a part of your brain that you wouldn’t normally.'

'Studying is definitely worth the effort and learning is very simulating. Birkbeck’s evening teaching was really important to me. With my TV work, I wouldn’t have been able to attend classes during the day.'

Aggie was able to juggle her presenting work plus taking part in Celebrity MasterChef while studying for her part-time course from 2009-2012.

She said: 'Studying at Birkbeck has been a real achievement. It has helped boost my confidence, and has also helped me in my career. Studying Psychoanalytic Psychology has, I think, made me much more tolerant of other people’s behaviour. It has helped me become a better listener and improve my understanding of other people. This has been particularly useful for my work on Storage Hoarders, where I meet people with a pathological insistence on keeping things they neither need nor use.'

Aggie still meets a group of her Birkbeck classmates every couple of months to discuss their experiences and how they can use what they have learned at university in their everyday lives.

She added: 'Within the class, some of us formed a very supportive group, and that was lovely. Because of the subject matter, we were able to share experiences with each other that you would not normally share with strangers. If you want to be engaged, excited and inspired, then I’d say Birkbeck is a great place to be.'

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'Birkbeck’s evening teaching was really important to me. With my TV work, I wouldn’t have been able to attend classes during the day.'