Life as third year a Biomedical Science student
We chatted to Ugonna Okoro, third year Biomedical Science BSc(Hons) student who talked about the course, career prospects and life at uni.
“Because I wanted to study Medicine at BSMS, I decided to study a course that would give me the fundamental knowledge and experience needed once I finished my degree. As an eligible Biomedical Science student here, I would also be able to apply for BSMS through the guaranteed interview scheme available to students during their first year or final year.
I wanted to make a difference in the lives of others, regardless of what I studied. It did not have to be a grand, global scale. Just by treating someone as an equal or talk to them about their struggles and hardships and make them smile. Those are the kind of impacts I wanted to have. And as a Medical or Biomedical Science student, I would be able to do just that.
I came from Canada where there is no college system in secondary school. Compared to my final year in grade 12, university is very much its own system. By this, I mean that you can do everything in university whilst you study. You can receive academic and wellbeing guidance as well as career advice in pursuit of a job. But most distinguishable, is that university requires more independence and discipline from its students. Luckily, you have resources in place to help you out if you’re struggling to keep up with peers or dealing with personal setbacks. I was well supported when I came to Brighton. Because I was 17 years old at the time, I was immediately contacted by the Residential Life Manager, who expressed his support for me should I need it during my stay in Halls. I also met my Student Support and Guidance Tutor (SSGT) during my studies, and my flatmates were a joy to be around and helped me settle in nicely.
The course broadens my knowledge of the human body. Even if a student decides to pursue a different career, the skills and knowledge you gain from the degree can be applied to almost any discipline or job. My favourite module was Diet and Exercise in year two. It combined the debate around healthy eating and exercise. One of the assignments allowed us to collaborate in groups of four to research the benefits of resistance, endurance and HIIT exercises of a chosen health condition. It was a course that changed my perception of health. I have even incorporated the lessons into my daily routine such as drinking almond milk, eating seeded whole wheat bread and exercising regularly.
Studying at Brighton was the right choice. You can direct your own learning and suggest tools and methods that help you understand complex physiological systems. I have used and observed a variety of lab equipment including confocal, electron and atomic microscopes, spectrometers, spirometer and four lead electrocardiograms. I had spoken to previous Biomed students and compared our current learning curriculum to theirs. There was a lot of noticeable changes. Our Professors recorded the courses that students liked and performed best in and implemented them the next year for students to enjoy.
We have a professional practise module for the second year. We learn about the different careers we can pursue our degree in preparation for the placement applications. Seeing as Biomedical Science is such a broad field, the career one can pursue is quite expansive. I could work as a Clinical Scientist, Microbiologist, Toxicologist, Forensic scientist and more. Non-lab-related jobs include working as a Scientific Journalist, Medical Sales Representative or as a Consultant.
We are encouraged to not limit ourselves to just the health and life sciences field. Our course teaches us transferable skills like organisation, responsibility, verbal and written communication, operation of equipment, research analysis, using IBM SPSS to analyse data, interpret graphs and identify patterns. I am confident that even if I don’t end up working in the health care profession, I would have still acquired skills that I can advertise to employees as a STEM student.
The university has a lot of supports systems in place for students. Each school is appointed an SSGT that every student can access. They are basically the first point of contact for academic difficulties. They will also direct you to the appropriate departments should you issue need expert guidance. There are financial advisors for those who struggle to pay student fees or accommodation fees, international advisors for international students, a career, wellbeing and disability team, residential advisors, mood boost and learning support plans. Students can access these services anytime through the MyBrighton app and are encouraged to.
Students are very receptive and amicable. There was a Biomedical Science WhatsApp group advertised on Facebook where we help each other with assignments and fill in students who missed lectures. It adds to the learning experience when you know you’re not the only one confused about certain topics. The teaching staff always try to make themselves available to the students. They welcome frequent visits and appreciate when we try to understand the lecture before coming to them with our own questions. They are incredibly down to earth which makes them friendly and approachable.
I have used the careers team to decide whether I should apply for graduate placements, apply to a graduate scheme or continue my learning by completing a master’s degree. We weighed the pros and cons for each path and highlighted the benefits the university provided for those wishing to complete a masters right after an undergrad. In the end, I decided to look for placements and apply for graduate degrees and asked them to look through my application forms. They not only corrected my grammar mistakes and changed the sentence structures for increased coherency, but they also refocused my objective of selling myself to employers.
To be honest, I am very proud of the person I will be graduating as. Opportunities that me of 3 years ago would have declined and ignored are now the opportunities that I jump at. Till now, I still prefer to follow others as opposed to taking the lead, but I am slowly getting out of that mindset and taking up leadership positions. Because of this, I have gotten closer to faculties and staff in Brighton. I have developed my strengths and learnt from my weaknesses.
The only thing I will say to anyone starting university would be to try everything.
Never tell yourself you’re not qualified, or that you don’t have relevant years of experience.
- University is the time where you can learn how to live independently and make important life decisions. It prepares you for the real world. So do not limit yourself and explore all that you can.
- Take advantage of every support system available to you because they were created for you.
- Attend open days, fresher’s fair and career fairs.
- Get a job, join a society, a sports club or the Student Union. Become a student rep, student ambassador or a residential advisor.
- Do not let any opportunity pass you by. Gain as much experience, study till your heart is content and leave university knowing you have the capabilities to conquer the world.