Case study


Jessica Lucas was given a challenge by her friends: to prove to herself she was the success they had always believed her to be. Jessica finished her A-levels with lower grades than she had hoped for, and she was doubting her ability. But her friends encouraged her to go to university – and now she has found the self-belief she was missing.

Happiness first

Jessica is full of energy, with a whirling imagination, and has always had her future in mind. She knows what she is aiming for.

“When I think about growing older, getting a job, and figuring out what I want to do, I have always said I just want to be happy,” she explains. “I don’t want to be bored and have no passion. I want to explore everything the world has to offer, make a difference, help people on the way and find value in everyday life. Life’s too short to not be curious and happy!”

Jessica is the first in her family to study at university and her outlook is inspired by her parents. They have worked hard to get to where they are and support Jessica in all her dreams. “They have always pushed me to be happy and do what I can,” she says.

Yes, there are moments still when she has her doubts, when her self-belief slips a little, and she has the occasional anxious feeling inside. However, her passion is winning the battle.

Why choose Derby?

Jessica is from Solihull in the West Midlands and joined the University of Derby in September 2020 during lockdown to study Marketing (PR and Advertising). She says: “I came to Derby because I loved the course, and I knew that I could do extracurricular activities such as the CIM (Chartered Institute of Marketing) to improve my knowledge and experience.

“I was inspired by current DerbyUni students, specifically Tamzin Burch, who also studies the same course. I followed her journey on social media and saw her take part in so many opportunities that enhanced her employability skills.”.

With her bursting passion for the Marketing industry, Jessica knew she wanted to work with local Derby businesses while she studied. “I knew I wanted to be creative. I liked that my course didn’t have exams, but instead that I would be working on essays and projects with real life businesses.”

And her experience since arriving in Derby has backed up her decision to come here. She says: “Derby has given me motivation and passion. The city itself has given me joy because it is so close knit. It is smaller compared to my home city, but I like that. You can walk down the city and arrive at the campus.

“And you can make friends really easily. Before day one, I had made friends. I joined a Facebook group with prospective students, and I reached out. I met so many friends from my course before we had even started.”

Jessica's story

Jessica monitoring social media

View Jessica's story video transcript

Developing the Jessica brand

“You come to university to find yourself and find out what you like,” says Jessica. And she is certainly doing just that.

Barbara Tomasella is a Senior Lecturer in Marketing and Jessica’s personal tutor. Jessica explains: “Barbara really encourages me to find myself and be flexible with my vision to find out what I want to do. I have learned it’s OK not to know what you want to do straight away, and university is your time to figure it out.”

She is most certainly on the right path, a flexible, self-developing, limitless path. Jessica received a first – 89% - for her first-year overall grade. And she scored 100% for one of her essays, which overall landed her with a 98% outcome for her module ‘Managing the brand’ … Could this be her calling?

Jessica's academic achievements for her first year resulted in her winning a Dean’s Award. This award is given to students whose academic achievements are within the top 10% of the college – the College of Business, Law, and Social Sciences in Jessica’s case.

“From A-level disappointment to getting the Dean’s Awards, this has proven to me further that I can do it and I am capable,” she says. “Happy doesn’t even cut it.”

Preparing for the future

Jessica is also stretching herself outside her studies. “The Careers and Employment Service have really helped me with their services,” she says. “The CV workshops and the Derby Futures Awards, are all really motivating me and helping me to build my CV”. 

And Jessica has stepped out of her comfort zone to support local businesses in Derby. She applied for a Social Media and Marketing Assistant role within our Business2Business (B2B) team and has been involved in projects she would never have imagined.

“It has opened more doors and I have met so many people,” she says. “I have stretched myself by working on the Derbyshire Festival for Business, social media plans, and analytics, which is not my comfort zone. I am expanding my skills every day and loving every minute of it."

Jessica understands that an open mind, and self-awareness, are key to her success. “I want to try loads of different areas in marketing,” she says. “I have worked in travel, I now work for B2B, and I have experience in freelancing in my spare time."

Jessica Lucas headshot

Everyone I have met at Derby has been wonderfully encouraging. They have allowed me to be me. That, in turn, has brought out my natural abilities and my confidence has followed. I’m excited to find out what the future holds.

Jessica Lucas
BA (Hons) Marketing (PR and Advertising)
Kedleston Road, Derby Campus entrance

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