Maggie Alphonsi MBE is a former rugby union player who played for Saracens W.R.F.C. and England, before retiring in 2014.
Winning Best Female Athlete in 2011 and becoming the first female ambassador for the men’s rugby league, Maggie is regularly seen on ITV and Sky and was also the first female pundit for a men's sport event.
Maggie is an inspirational figure both on and off the field, for aspiring athletes, women and the Black community.
She spoke to our Sports and ESOL students as part of Black History Month.
Maggie inspired the students as she spoke about her life. She is known for being an accomplished athlete, but she had a tough start to life, dealing with a childhood disability, subsequently spending many of her first years in and out of hospital.
Maggie detailed her troublesome childhood; finding maintaining friends and school life difficult as she had "no outlet to express her feelings".
The focus of her talk was encouraging students to set their own goals and striving to reach them.
Students discussed their goals for the future; some wanted to go to university, some wanted to progress in sports coaching or make their parents proud.
In the past, Maggie received negativity from the male sports fans, but this has not stopped her achieving her goals.
She encouraged students to be resilient and "step out of your comfort zone, even when imposter syndrome hits."
Maggie’s current goals are still changing and evolving to fit what she wants to achieve. She made history in 2016, becoming the first female player to be elected as a National Member of the Rugby Football Union's Council. She is also the only woman, person of colour and person under 60 in the council.
Her next goal? Becoming the President of the Union's Council.
Bethany Lacey, President of the Students' Union said: "It was an honour to have Maggie come in and talk to us, she is an inspirational person to many of us. It was amazing to hear how she has overcome setbacks in life and has reached so many of her personal goals.
I felt very inspired after meeting her and now see failure from a different perspective - it's something you can embrace and learn from."
We would like to thank Maggie for visiting Canterbury College and sharing her story with our students, offering them invaluable advice that they can carry with them into their life and career progression.