Rebecca’s Story

40 years old, Renwick, Cumbria

Degree course studied and university:  

BSc (Hons) Immunology at the University of Aberdeen.  PhD in Molecular Biology at the University of Aberdeen (currently underway)            

Why did you decide on this subject ?

Immunology is really difficult, but I find it fascinating.  My PhD project is something that I believe in.

Why did you decide on this university?

University of Aberdeen is near the start of the UCAS book!!  Also, having spent time in Scotland, I knew I loved it there.  I also love the beach and Aberdeen has a great beach (though the North Sea is a tad cold for swimming!).

What did you want to be as a child?

An astronaut, a vet, a doctor and a teacher

Has your career or education taken any unexpected turns? What were they?

 I went to Uni in 2000 to study psychology, this changed to chemistry in 2nd year and then Immunology in 3rd year.  I didn’t plan to start a PhD as late as 2016.  My career and education mirror my life – no real plan, tried my best and took the chances that presented themselves.

Why did you decide to study for a degree?

I didn’t really know what else to do.  I wasn’t finished educating myself, so thought that a degree was the best option.

What did you study at sixth form? Why?

I studied Maths, Biology and Chemistry A levels.  I had initially tried to study Physics A level, but it was way too hard, so I dropped Physics after the first term and switched to Biology.  I had also really wanted to study Drama, but it was timetabled against Maths, so I went with Maths instead.

How did you decide what to do after school?

As I said, I was unsure what else to do.  I wanted to carry on my education and after my A levels thought that I had it in me to do a degree.  I have a strong interest in science but also in psychology and drama.  It was a really tough choice, but as I have demonstrated here, there are very few decisions that are final.

Did anyone help you to decide?

My parents listened to my thoughts and helped me think through my options. My teachers were all very encouraging and behind me in terms of applying for University.  One teacher in particular was very keen for me to apply to Oxford or Cambridge, but at the time I didn’t think that was for me!

Who influenced you?

Parents, teachers, friends.

What support did you get?

Encouragement from parents, teachers and friends.  Financial support from parents and the student loans company!

What’s the best thing about studying with your university? What’s the best thing about your course?

My lecturers were interesting and enthusiastic. Aberdeen is small so it feels like a village, which made me feel safe.

Did you find anything difficult about applying for and/or starting a degree? How did you get around this?

I got all the help I needed from my teachers when applying.  The University made things easy when starting.  I didn’t go into halls, as I didn’t really fancy that.  Instead I found my own accommodation. Letting Agents are a good place to start, but the Uni also has housing officers.

Were there any key turning points in your journey into a degree, e.g. events or conversations?

If there were it’s so long ago now that I don’t remember (old brain).  My PhD came about as I needed to improve my own situation.  I approached my employer and suggested the project.  They were happy with the idea and the PhD grew out of that.

What are you looking forward to the most about finishing university?

I can’t wait to finish my PhD so that I can get on with advancing my career

Any tips for anyone choosing to study your course?

If you put in the hours of self-led study you will reap the rewards.  Your learning and your success are completely up to you.  You are in charge and you have the power to impress yourself and come away with a degree that you are proud of.

What advice would you give to someone from your area?

Cumbria is an amazing, inspirational place.  People travel the world to see your home.  Harness that power and use it to create a life that inspires people.  I have studied and worked with people from all over the world.  Cumbria will always be your home but the world is your oyster.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

Promoting my local anaesthetic detection device to hospital trusts all over the world.