Welcome to the second in our series of articles catching up with former pupils of Smestow to see what they went on to achieve after leaving school. Here, we talk to Maxine Mallen who was at Smestow from 1989 to 1994 and is now a presenter on BBC Radio Stoke, as well as an author of children’s books…

“I think most of my teachers at Smestow would have described me as talkative, and maybe a little too chatty! My energy and constant questioning was channelled into sports, drama and debating.

“I loved reading and writing so my English teachers entered me into a writing competition, which I won. I realised then that if I worked hard, I could achieve anything!

“I went on to go to the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. After gaining my degree I went on to teach.

“Teaching was brilliant but I felt something was missing. I had remembered doing media work at school and decided to go into a local radio station and learn to broadcast.

“It felt amazing! The thrill of the ‘on air’ light coming on was electric. I knew that this is what I needed to do.

“I’ve worked for the BBC for several years now, as a presenter I get the opportunity to talk about current affairs, challenge opinions and use those debating skills from school – they still come in handy!

“My writing didn’t go unused either, I write scripts daily but I’m also a published author of two children’s books.

“My advice for students is that people change; don’t feel locked into any college or career now.

“It’s great to have an ideal plan for your life, but remember that things happen, and your plans may need to change… so keep an open mind – and keep your options open.

“Some of your friends – or perhaps you – already know, or think you know, what you want to do in life. If so, that’s fantastic, but don’t become so myopic that you lose sight of other interesting opportunities.

“There are career paths that have not even started today that may be big in five or more years.”