New Beginnings for UH Graduates
[Robert Wheatley | Lifestyle Editor]
As another final year draws to a close, the celebration of the immense work students have put into their degrees begins with an emotional Awards Ceremony at the monumental St Albans Cathedral. As the graduates spill from its double doors sporting their robes, group photographs or selfies are taken and hats are flung into the air; hugs ensuing with friends sharing the knowledge that they have succeeded in one of the hardest parts of their lives.
While most were naturally exhausted from such a day, I was able to interview some about their experiences, from their favourite moment at the University of Hertfordshire down to what they would do differently if they could. It was interesting to see the different answers:
“Probably today – just doing this is the best part,” said 22-year-old Sarah Chinn, a student majoring with a BSc in Psychology. “I think it’s all summed up to this because you’ve worked so hard after the last 3 years, and you’re finally getting to see all your friends in their robes. I think the ceremony is the best bit.”
When asked about the most difficult part of her degree, she answered:
“Exams, definitely. We have a lot of dates and names to learn; I think I learnt 50 names and dates for one exam, all off by heart. I had lists of 50 pictures – word association doesn’t work for me.”
Sarah’s words of wisdom undoubtedly apply to all university students:
“Go to lectures! It’s so hard to catch up if you don’t go to lectures, and definitely read around the course; get background information because I started without any psychology knowledge, and everyone was a little bit more ahead so they knew what they were doing. It’s better to do some background reading, definitely, and look up what subject area you’re into.”
Other graduates noted their involvement with societies and the Students’ Union amongst some of their best memories. James Tan, a 22-year-old Pharmacy student, spoke to me about his formation of the Skirmish Society:
“It’s like the Airsoft one. That was a real game changer for me, being able to run that; the fact that we had the opportunity to do so and actually got to know the University as a result.
“I helped start that society in second year, I kept it going in fourth year, and ended up taking control of the Pharmacy society, which was the bugbear because it took a lot more time and effort than I could give at the time. It was fun and soul-destroying at the same time.”
James had advice for those wishing to get involved with sports at the University:
“The Athletic Union is kick-ass: if you can do it, do it. Find something that you’d like as they always do the tasters in the first two weeks – just get to know the group, because it’s not just about the sports, it’s about the people you know. I tried badminton and I didn’t really enjoy it; I tried fencing on a whim – I have lifelong friends now.”
Like Sarah, James had tips for undergraduates:
“First year: enjoy it. Get to know people, as you’re with them for four years. The moment you hit second and third year, the course does start to dominate a bit more. Find your roots in first year: third year, start listening, read – go read things!”
Although James had some stress as a result of his involvement with a lot of societies, when asked whether he’d go back and change anything, he proclaimed:
“Not a damn thing. I thoroughly enjoyed my course – it’s been a real life changer.”
Some students were not as involved with societies, with their work taking priority. 22-year-old MPharm graduate, Anil Tosar, admitted he would have gotten more involved with societies if he could.
“I didn’t do any society stuff, but looking back I kind of wish I did as it’s a good way of meeting people other than on your course. If I could go back, I’d definitely recommend looking into societies as you meet a wide range of people.”
Regrets aside, Anil appeared to have a good plan for his future pharmacy career:
“At the moment, I’m doing my pre-registration in Boots and I’ve worked there a month, but after I hopefully pass the exam I want to maybe work for them for a few years. I want to hopefully run my own independent pharmacy, but this is way down the line.
“I want to work for myself, eventually, because you can run the things you want to, and it will be such a rewarding experience to show you’ve come this far.”
He had tips for up and coming MPharm undergraduates:
“Don’t get bogged down by your work. I didn’t have a timetable, and I wish I had done as it would have made things so much easier. Definitely don’t leave coursework last minute: I wasn’t a last-minute person, but you need to work ahead as I was stressed even a week before the deadline. Just be organised, and on top of yourself, and you won’t have any problems.”
Vatsala Patel, a 23-year-old Pharmaceutical Science graduate, gave similar advice to Anil; noting the difficulty of the second year of her course:
“It’s more about second year: they said it was important, but they didn’t emphasise how important it was; how it affected your grade. If you work hard, you don’t have to stress as much in third year, as if you mess up you’ll have a fall back; retaking modules, and such.”
Vatsala said she found her third year difficult, having to get back into it after studying abroad in the USA. Despite this, her dedication to her work resulted in her achieving an excellent 2:1.
Exams are often the kicker when it comes to any degree:
“At times, we had three or four exams in one go, so it’s just managing your time and trying to revise for all of them,” explains MPharm graduate Shaili Patel, a 22-year-old Pharmacy student. For many MPharm students, graduation is not an end to examinations.
“I’m doing my pre-reg year, so I’m working at Barts and the London NHS Trust. It’s just for 1 year, then I have to sit an exam, and then hopefully fingers crossed I’ll pass so I can become a qualified pharmacist.”
Other students like Luke Trevillion, a 21-year-old Sports Studies graduate, found coursework to be one of the most challenging parts of their course.
“At the end of my third year, I had five deadlines in a row on Fridays, so I had to write one a week. That included final year projects: one presentation, three essays, and one final project. I spent most time on the project.”
Similarly to James, Luke was quite involved in sports. He is now working for the Herts Sports Partnership, the hosts of the Active Students scheme run by UH.
“I work for Active Students, facilitating and making sure everyone’s alright. I’ve done loads: football, basketball, and roller skating this year.I work there part time now, so after my Master’s I’ll probably look to work there full time. I get a pay rise this year; I’m heading up marketing so I’ll get about £10 an hour. I’ll probably go into marketing after that, preferably sport marketing.”
It was a beautiful sight to behold, seeing the varying students and their degrees throughout the day. It was such an inspiration to me as I, along with my fellow Trident Media colleagues, hope to one day follow in their footsteps. Keep a lookout for more coverage of the UH September Award Ceremonies, as we will be posting more articles soon. Congratulations to our University’s new graduates, and good luck to them with their future endeavours!
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