Chris Atkin

  College: College of St Hild and St Bede
  Subject: Combined Social Sciences
  Class of: 2011
  Location: Palo Alto, California

Your Durham Inspiration

Do you remember why you first chose to study at Durham?

There were three reasons why I decided Durham was the place for me:

Firstly, after visiting Durham, I remember thinking how sterile some of the campus universities I had previously visited felt in comparison. Durham University doesn't exist in a remote corner, isolated from the city centre - it's spread out across it and is much the better for it.

The course itself was also appealing - by studying Combined Social Sciences I could choose modules from a variety of subjects. Initially, I anticipated that I would take a majority of politics modules, but during the three years this changed and I ended up predominantly studying history. In addition to politics, I also studied a module of Spanish and a module of law.

Finally, I chose Durham as it was far from where I lived in Surrey. This meant I was unlikely to get any surprise visits from my parents!

Tell us about any sports, societies or clubs you were involved in at Durham.

Where to begin? I'm a jack of all trades, master of none. At Hild Bede I was elected Clubs and Societies Officer, which was a role on the exec that I relished. During my first term at university I learned how to row and our crew successfully de-noviced by winning a regatta that summer. I played football for the college and led the 5th team to promotion as captain in my final year. I also relaunched and edited Hild Bede’s dormant college newsletter, HB Sauce, contributed to The Palatinate, performed stand up comedy and was part of the university triathlon club.

What work or moment were you most proud of at Durham?

Together with my friends we set up Hild Bede table tennis club. As a newly formed team, we started at the bottom of the university league and climbed up the pecking order to win the top division in our final year.

What are your fondest memories from your time here?

Tough question! I loved living out in second and third year, but I have fond memories of my friends meeting up at Christopher block at Hild Bede and walking across the college as we idly kicked a football between us on the way to dinner during the summer months. Memories of football club socials still make me laugh, but some of them are a little fuzzy!


What have you been up to since you left Durham?

Much like for today's graduates, jobs were scarce when we left university. I spent several memorable months working as an intern for former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt MP during his time as Minister for Culture, Media and Sport in the run up to the Olympics. My first full-time role though was working in the news archive at Sky News. I took a step back to gain a fast-track journalism degree and then returned to Sky as a producer. After four years at Sky, I joined BT Sport, where I had the opportunity to travel to sports stadiums across the country. When my fixed-term contract was coming to an end, I was offered the opportunity to travel to Panama to manage the social media platforms of the country’s largest language school for five months. I then fulfilled a long-held ambition to cycle around Spain. Upon my return to the UK, I moved to Cambridge and worked as the digital marketing manager for an artificial intelligence start-up company.

What are you doing that is most meaningful to you now?

In September last year my wife, Sarah, began a year-long Fellowship at Stanford University in California so we moved to the US together (no mean feat during the pandemic!). During this time I have been working as a freelance journalist and published a book about my cycle trip across Spain. It's been a lot of work, but I'm extremely proud that the reviews show people are enjoying reading the book so much.

Is there anything from Durham that has stayed with you and still inspires you now?

My book revolves around my love of Spanish culture, my ongoing attempts to learn the language, my interest in political history and my passion for sport - all things I nurtured at Durham. It even features an astonishing episode of history relevant to the public international law module I studied. On a more general note, the life lessons I learned at Durham have stayed with me. Most importantly, so have my friends.

Tell us about your latest news or developments.

I’m currently focused on getting the book into the hands of people who will enjoy it. Sarah and I are not sure whether we will be staying in the US beyond the next few months, so it's exciting to see what the future holds.

Pass It On

What would be your top piece of advice for current students and/or recent graduates?

Get involved with everything you can at university. I didn't realise it before I moved to California, but there are two fellow Hild Beders from my year who are living less than an hour away from where we set up base just south of San Francisco. If I hadn't played football or put myself forward as a candidate for Clubs and Societies Officer, I may never have met them at university.

Is there anything that you know now that you wish you’d known when graduating?

Invest in Bitcoin!

Related Links

My book is available here.

My website is:

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