Bethany Leake: BSc Genetics

Why did you choose to come to Leeds University to study?

The choice to study Genetics at university was mainly based on what I loved to learn about at the time. I didn’t have a particular career in mind, I just went with what I enjoyed.

The main reason for choosing to study at Leeds was because of its amazing reputation, both as a top university and as a vibrant city. When I came to visit the university I fell in love with it. It’s a modern and well-kept campus, and there’s always something going on.

What was the highlight of your course?

Probably my favourite part of the programme was doing lab work with C. elegans worms. We actually introduced mutations into living worms and watched the mutation be passed down the worms’ offspring. Lab work is normally not my favourite thing, so that’s saying something. This was part of the animal development module, a module that was interesting the whole way through.

What were the greatest challenges throughout your degree?

Sticking with it when it got tough. Doing a science degree at a top university means being taught the most up to date research, and sometimes it can be quite overwhelming. At A-Level you’re used to learning only what’s in the textbook. At university you’re expected to learn your lectures and do as much extra reading as possible. Fitting all this in as well as joining any societies and having a social life is tough (and having a social life is VERY important).

What have you been doing since finishing your studies?

I’m currently working at St George’s Hospital in London, where I am a booking co-ordinator for outpatient appointments in the neurology and neurosurgery department. It’s taken me quite a while to decide what do in my career, but I’m planning on applying for trainee medical sales programmes, I think I’d be quite good at that. I’m a sociable person and I love to talk to people. I’ve also considered midwifery, graduate medicine and NHS management as careers, so who knows, I might change my mind again. The good thing is you get a lot of choice when you’ve got a scientific degree, so you could do almost anything you want.

So far, the highlight of my working life has been going to watch brain surgery (an awake craniotomy) on a real life patient who had a brain tumour. The main lesson that I have learnt since graduating is that it doesn’t matter what you’re doing or how ‘good’ your job is, you still open a lot of doors for yourself and get opportunities that might take you elsewhere.

Have you any advice you would offer to current and prospective students?

Do whatever subject you want to do and what you are passionate about. Don’t worry about what your parents or teachers think you should study, if it’s not what you want then don’t do it. You won’t enjoy yourself and you will end up regretting it later.

Always make time to have fun and socialise. If you don’t have a good work-life balance then you won’t be productive in your degree. Good times with your friends are the memories that you will value the most.

Finally, if you’re not happy with your course or your health or whatever it is, go and find someone who can help. There is always a solution and sometimes you just need someone to push you in the right direction.