Penelope is currently a second year BA Geography with Quantitative Methods student in the Faculty of Environment.
Why did you choose your degree?
My main motivation for studying a Geography degree is my drive to work towards finding solutions to problems such as plastic pollution, climate change, the housing crisis, and regional inequality. The breadth of the course solidified this desire to study Geography with modules including ‘Global Geopolitics, Migration and Uneven Development’ and ‘The Making of the Modern City’. As I am still undecided on my future career, I believe that my degree will continue to equip me with a diverse skillset and provide me with insights on real-world events to enable me to succeed in a variety of industries. So far, my modules in first year and second year have developed my ability to use QGIS, R and Microsoft Excel as well as improve my global awareness and critical analysis. Furthermore, the opportunity to transfer onto the Geography BA with Quantitative Methods programme at the end of my first year has enabled me to specialize in my degree, which has been crucial for my academic development.
What has been your favourite part of the course so far?
I have really enjoyed having the option to take a Discovery Module alongside my main degree as this has provided me with the flexibility to explore my other areas of interest. In my first year, I studied a Philosophy module called Knowledge, Self and Reality in order to broaden my academic knowledge with topics including Epistemic Injustice and Personal Identity. In my second year, I decided to take a different approach and instead took an additional module in the School of Geography called ‘Sustainability: Living Within Limits’, to understand the challenges with natural resource management. These two different approaches in my first and second year have been key to my academic exploration, and I look forward to taking a third Discovery Module in my final year.
Why did you choose to study at the University of Leeds?
When I arrived in Leeds for an Open Day, I knew instantly that the University of Leeds would be well-suited to me. The welcoming atmosphere and sense of community on campus really made me feel at home. Not only is the university itself highly reputable as an academic institution, but the city of Leeds is a vibrant location with lots of neighbouring countryside. I have had an amazing set of opportunities so far, including the Laidlaw Scholarship. This summer I will be travelling to Mexico for my Leadership in Action project to take part in the Re_action for Climate programme with makesense. Furthermore, I have recently become a Student Ambassador and a Unibuddy Ambassador for the University of Leeds.
What do you do in your spare time?
Alongside my extra-curricular activities and my degree, I dedicate time to go to the gym and run in my local area to stay active. I balance this with my role as a Residence Life Assistant at Devonshire Hall, one of the University Halls of Residence. This is a part-time role open to anyone in their second year or above at university to support students and improve student life in Halls. As well as this, I have enjoyed exploring the city of Leeds for example visiting the theatre, galleries, and museums as I take an interest in the cultural heritage of Leeds.
What are your experiences of accommodation at university?
In my first year, I was allocated to Devonshire Hall and shared a self-catered flat with five other students. Although this was not my first-choice accommodation, I am very pleased to have had the opportunity of living at Devonshire Hall since it is the last traditional University of Leeds Hall of Residence; there are opportunities to join the Junior Common Room Hall Executive and attend formal dinners. I decided to continue living at Devonshire Hall in my second year as a Residence Life Assistant and I plan to continue in this role in my third year.
What are your top tips for applying for University?
My top tip for applying to university is to choose a degree that you love! If you have a passion for your subject, this will come across in your application, in any interviews you might have and most importantly, you will enjoy your time at university if you have a deep interest in your subject area. I would recommend attending as many open days or virtual insight events as you can, as well as talking to Student Ambassadors and lecturers to gauge whether you would like to go to a particular university. Mentioning extra-curricular activities in a university application is a great way to help you stand out from other candidates. This could include a part-time job alongside your studies, a sporting interest, or a hobby. The best bit of advice I would give to my 16-year old self would be to stay open to new opportunities and embrace the possibility of goals, interests, and plans changing in terms of future career and academic study.
Where do you see yourself after university?
Although I do not know the exact career path that I wish to pursue, I am certain that I would like to make a positive impact with my work and promote global sustainability. I think that my experience at university will enable me to adapt quickly to any fast-paced working environment. I am considering consultancy as a profession and exploring careers at Network Rail and Unilever as I believe that I would thrive working for a company where there is a lot of opportunity to progress. I aim to work for a company that actively gives back to the community and encourages employees to take part in charity work, as this is something that I would be interested in doing.
Sum up your university experience (so far!) in one sentence!
A fulfilling, once-in-a lifetime opportunity, with many great memories!