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The 25-year-old landed the role at the Royal Shropshire and Mid Wales Fertility Centre in Shrewsbury, having gained a First Class Medical Science degree from UCS earlier this year.

She was one of the 180 new graduates to enjoy the institution’s first in-person graduation ceremony since the pandemic in the beautiful surroundings of St Chad’s Church, last month.

As a semenologist, Kirstie’s role is usually one of the first ports of call for couples who are struggling to fall pregnant and leads to senior scientists looking at the results and coming up with an action plan.

Yet when she joined UCS in September 2018, Kirstie could not have dreamt that she would be in the role she is today.

Kirtsie Penny at graduation 1.jpg

Kirstie Penny at her graduation.
“I knew I wanted to study a bioscience and the modules for Medical Science appealed to me the most, particularly pathogenesis of infectious diseases,” Kirstie explained.

“I came to UCS through Access to HE qualification in Health, rather than A-Levels which made me feel a little less knowledgeable than my peers to begin with,” she explained.

In fact, according to Senior Lecturer Dr Elizabeth O’Brien, Head of Group at UCS, in Kirstie’s first class test of the degree programme, her score was one of the lowest in the group.

“She felt overwhelmed and out of her depth compared to other students who came with more traditional qualifications,” said Dr O’Brien.

“But she worked extremely hard to improve her marks while working part-time - even during the lockdowns she worked at Tesco supermarket as a key worker.

“All her hard work has paid off and she graduated with a First Class degree in Medical Science, something she never dreamt of achieving.”

Kirstie is extremely proud of her achievements and keen to encourage others who may not hold traditional qualifications to explore the possibility of Higher Education.

“My qualification shows that through hard work, and the support of the University, that no matter your entry pathway, you can achieve a great degree,” she said.

For Kirstie, personal support from her tutors at UCS has been invaluable and she’s especially grateful for the numerous volunteering opportunities the institution provides to support.

“The small class sizes have benefited me endlessly,” she said.

“They meant that lecturers are really approachable and easy to contact, they know you all by name which is not the case at larger universities, and this makes you feel really valued as a student.

“I don't think that I would’ve achieved a First Class degree at another university, because I have benefited from regular and detailed feedback from lecturers and any additional help when required. I am not sure I would have received the same level of support at a larger institution.

“Taking up any opportunities will really help you stand out in the future, especially if you refer to the experience in an interview. Volunteering, for example, helps you meet new people and gain confidence.

 “I have always appreciated the open communication between students and staff. I feel students are listened to with regular Staff-Student Liaison Meetings.”

“I’m immensely proud to have gained a First Class degree at UCS - it is more than I could ever have imagined achieving.”

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