Rachel Weiss founded a charity that encourages people to meet up and talk about the menopause at pop-up events around the UK.
MSc in Knowledge Based Systems
|Year of Graduation
Your time at the University
I was choosing between Brighton and Edinburgh, since they were best for Artificial Intelligence (AI). I remember walking out of Waverley Station and being blown away by the beautiful buildings and Princes St Gardens, then as I walked up towards the AI dept. in the Territorial Army building in Forrest Hill, I glimpsed down a vennel – a mountain! I’d never been in a city with a mountain and a beach before, so I had already chosen Edinburgh University before I even reached the department.
I enjoyed being able to combine my interest in classics and theology with my masters dissertation in natural language, wangling a project in the School of Divinity looking at how computers could parse New Testament Greek.
- The persistent busker playing on South Bridge beneath our office windows, I learnt to dread the sound of his bagpipes warming up!
- Walking across the North Bridge to Calton Hill on May morning, in the early hours, passing bakers, postmen and others on their way to work in the pre-dawn light was a unique experience. I’d experienced May morning in Oxford, but I remember that being in the light.
- Volunteering with Nightline, a student version of the Samaritans, providing overnight phone support to students.
- Walking Student Cross from Edinburgh to Lindisfarne in Easter week and having our feet washed on Maundy Thursday by parishioners in Northumberland – our feet were pretty blistered and smelly, so that was a true act of charity!
- Making lifelong friends.
Your experiences since leaving the University
I didn’t know what to do after graduating, maybe a PhD? I got a part-time job as a teaching assistant in the AI department, lived in a Christian community in Portobello and volunteered with an AIDS charity. I didn’t develop my MSc project, which told me I wasn’t sufficiently interested in that to do a PhD. Then the University had a financial crisis and my post was axed.
I went to Aberdeen to do teacher training for a year and found I liked it, and returned to Edinburgh to work as a maths and computing teacher (so I was using my MSc). Through this I became interested in counselling, so I did a Diploma in Counselling (link to Nightline volunteering).
Meanwhile I’d married Andy, whom I’d met at Edinburgh Uni – he had been studying an MSc in Computer Science. He was then diagnosed with a rare liver disease and after years of deterioration and hospital stays was saved by a liver transplant – so thank you to all organ donors and blood donors out there. Thanks to you our three children have grown up with a Dad.
We moved to Perth where I founded Rowan Consultancy, helping people lead more satisfying lives through counselling, coaching, workplace mediation and leadership training. We now have counsellors from London to Inverness and recently celebrated our 20th birthday in business!
Recently I founded the charity Menopause Café, which runs pop-up events throughout the UK where people, often strangers, meet to drink tea, eat cake and talk about the menopause.
I won the Association of Scottish Businesswomen (ABS) award for Commitment to the Community for my voluntary work with Menopause Café, and I was also given the Point of Light Award by the Prime Minister’s Office, which recognises outstanding volunteers who are making a change in their community.
Menopause Festival 26-27 April 2019
Enjoy all that the University and the city and the surrounding countryside have to offer. Live life to the full, carpe diem!
Manage your money well.
Do what makes your soul sing, earns you a living and is what the world needs: it may take time to discover what that is, but it’s all time well spent.
'Vivir con miedo es como vivir a medias' (HT Baz Luhrmann, listen to his 'Everyone’s Free to Wear Sunscreen' for more wisdom.)
Rowan Consultancy (external link)
Organ donor register (external link)
Point of Light Award case study (external link)
Edinburgh Nightline (external link)