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Second-year Medical Genetics student Kimberley tells us about her past year. Despite it being a very different experience from her first year, with the support of her academic staff and the wider university she has made some great achievements. 

How has your past year been? 

My past year has been a strange experience, like it has been for everyone, but the support offered by the university staff, including help on studies, zoom calls (if required), check-in emails, and the Wellbeing Team working throughout, was a major help. Out of the six modules completed this past year, I achieved four firsts and two 2:1’s, so with the amazing support of the lecturers and wellbeing staff, the motivation and educational levels were not dropped.

What have you learned on the course over the past year?

In the second year for Medical Genetics we studied five main components: Biology of disease; Microbiology; Metabolism; Applied Molecular; and Genetics. Biology of disease was definitely my favourite, learning about the different diseases that can occur in a human body, how to treat them, and different ways to spot them. This module related very nicely to genetics, microbiology, and applied molecular in terms of why the disease exists (gene mutations for example), how the disease can spread (microbials in water as an example), and how you can prevent it (different vaccinations). Metabolism also gains insight into how different medication can have certain effects on the body, an example of this that we studied was the negative impact of over-supplementation of iron tablets. A positive example is how Vitamin D supplementation can improve symptoms of Ricketts.

Have there been any highlights or achievements on your course over the past year?

I completed my second year with a first, which is something I’m proud of and it is a massive help going forward to the third year. Another achievement this year is that I have completed a level 3 employability qualification. There have also been extra seminars from lecturers from other universities and science professions which were delivered online, these were optional but were definitely a highlight to the year as it gave you the opportunity to gain some knowledge on a topic which, without this opportunity, wouldn’t have been possible on the course.

How have you found online lectures?

To begin with, it took a little while to get used to, trying to figure out the software we were using, finding ways to share the PowerPoint and activities, as well as finding ways to keep everyone motivated. The lecturers, however, worked with us to come up with a structure that worked for everyone to achieve the highest motivation possible. The online lectures ended up being a massive positive to come out of the recent pandemic, this is because the lectures were then recorded so you could go back and watch them if there was some information you missed or didn’t quite understand.

How have you felt supported by the university during the past year?

This past year, as well as the year previous to that, the support from the university has been outstanding. All departmental help is only an email away, then a meeting will be arranged to discuss the issue you feel you need support with. On the moodle site there are also videos, links, and activities, which are also informative on certain topics. So there are multiple ways you can get support throughout the university facilities and I would say the support is incredible.

How have your lecturers supported you?

The lecturers have been amazing, replying to emails in less than 24 hours (weekdays), directing you to wellbeing departments (if required), supplying different material to help enhance the lecture information. The lecturers would stay behind after lectures to answer questions anyone may have as well as organising zoom meetings. They found ways to keep up our motivation, given the difficult circumstances, and they definitely made a positive impact on how the students dealt with the pandemic.

Have you accessed any of the support services?

I have accessed a few of the support services, including the study skills seminars which were put in place every student development week to enhance your knowledge and understanding of certain academic topics, such as referencing, and CVs. I also accessed the wellbeing department, with a speedy response time, which was very impressive and appreciated given the increase of individuals requiring those services with the effects of the pandemic.

Was it easy to make friends and stay in touch with people?

Obviously, this past year was a lot more difficult to meet people than in previous years, but the university did everything that they could to ensure people met virtually. For example, in courses all three years would have a zoom coffee morning where there would be quizzes and an opportunity to talk about literally anything with each other, getting to know one another. This is an event that does normally take place anyway but this year the university found a way for this event to continue to allow for the new students to make friends and interact. During Welcome Week, and throughout the year, there were also online events which would give students the opportunity to meet other students. Keeping in touch seemed fairly straightforward, using teams for video chats with other students you wished to talk to, as well as using social media platforms.

Do you have any advice for students who will be joining the university this year?

My advice is to just be yourself. Also, get to know people on other courses as well as your own. Take advantage of the extra help and support given to you, especially the extra-curricular seminars as they expand your course knowledge which aids your assignment research. If you're interested in another subject these seminars can also give you an insight into other course information. Go to the events hosted by the University as this gives you a chance to meet new people and make new friends consistently throughout your university experience as you’ll never meet everyone, and there will always be new people to meet. Also, be respectful to your lecturers, and help them out wherever possible as the favour will be reciprocated, and it won’t go unnoticed!

If you're interested in studying at University Centre Shrewsbury find out more about how to apply here.

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