Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Pili Luna's Journey to UoG

Pilarzth. A written interpretation of how it actually sounds. If you could hear how the ‘r’ rolls off the tongue in a twist, you’d think it was someone or something straight out of the wizarding world. However, it’s actually a very Mexican name. Quite hard for us Brits to say with ease. “Nobody could ever understand ‘Pilarzth’, that’s why Pili is a thing…It’s pronounced ‘Pee-lee’, very Harry Potter! To her colleagues in the Media Schoolit may indeed seem like she works magic. But in reality, it’s not the flick of a wand that gets mountains of paperwork completed. 

Pili Luna's official UoG headshot

Pili has worked at the University for 14 years. She spends her days holding courses such as Journalism, Film and Television firmly afloat. The bubbling personalities and family-like work friends are what makes her job so fulfilling. “I couldn’t personally work in [someplace] like computing in the Business School, it’s not my personality type. Whereas Media School people are bonkers!”. Pili grew up in Cheltenham, but being a course administrator wasn’t always the plan. Her journey here was a pretty colourful one. 

Acapulco, Mexico - Credit: GettyImages

Rewind back to 1976. Pili was born in Acapulco, Mexico, where she lived until the age of five with her Mexican Father and English Mother. She says she will always remember the moment she stepped off the plane in her new home across the Atlantic. “I remember thinking what is this?” She giggled. “It was summer but it was freezing and it was raining and it was grey.” The cold and monotone environment that was presented to her five-year-old eyes was worlds away from the tropical climate that she was so used to. “In my life, I could have gone one way or another. I could have been raised as a Mexican woman. But [when] I think of the opportunities that my mother opened up for me by moving me over here, it’s quite immense. I feel very lucky to have been raised as an English child".

Every child has dreams of what they want to be when they’re older. Pili was no exception. She had her heart set on being a Forensic Scientist of all professions.  Her creative flair and lack of love for data, long numbers and equations meant this dream quickly fizzled out. What was next on the agenda? To be in the theatre industry, of course. “I thought I wanted to be a stage manager in theatre, then I realised there was no money in that, it was tough. I moved to London and managed to get into post production, which I thought was a really nice career path and I could use my degree!”. 

Pili’s dream of a career in post-production was short lived. Unfortunately, she found out that her mother had cancer, so moved back to Cheltenham.

The trip of a lifetime was next in line for Pili, after her mother left her a pot of money after she’d passed away. Between 2004 and 2005 at the age of 28, she travelled the world. The highlight of the trip she says, happened deep in the Peruvian Andes. “I often talk about my trip to Machu Picchu… a four-day trek at a very high altitude. You have to be physically fit to do that and I wasn’t so I struggled” she says whilst looking up at the ceiling as if reliving the past experience. The nostalgia glowing bright in her eyes. “[The tour guides] get you to arrive at this vantage point as the sun rises at 4am. It’s very overwhelming. It’s beautiful how all of a sudden this magical place appears from the clouds.”


Pili’s next career venture back in the UK, was in a completely different field. She admits that it’s one of her quirks, but one with a deeply-rooted origin.  “When my mum was ill, I discovered that I was interested in spirituality and the whole death thing. I had quite a weird experience at the point of her passing. I was watching the television and my hands starting heating up.” She says shakily looking down at her palms. “Then the phone rang and it was the hospital. My mum had just died. I started going to healers and mediums and things. Then I thought, maybe there’s something I can give.” This prompted her to go into Indian head massage and reflexology. This carried on through the first few years of her career at UoG, but focused solely on her role here from 2010, where she’s remained grounded. 

She’s lived a life that’s taken her across the world and back again in a full circle. Revealing the fascinating and heart-warming story of her experience that introduced her to spiritual healing may have just reiterated the fact that she is indeed magic. An incredible lady that puts her heart and soul into her job. She continues to pour her infectious happy energy into the lives of everyone in the Media School. Muggle? I think not. Pili Luna really is the University of Gloucestershire’s very own sorting hat. 

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