Futures Fund ensures that Gary gets his first

Gary White received support from the Futures Fund during his final year of University.

Gary studied on the BSc (Hons) Physiological Sciences programme during his time at the University of Sunderland and received numerous academic accolades.

During Gary’s first year of study he was awarded with the ‘Oxford University Press Achievement in Biosciences Prize 2016-17’ and in his second year of study Gary received the ‘Undergraduate Microbiology Prize 2018’.

During his time at the University of Sunderland Gary was an exemplary student and applied for funding during his final year to help support himself financially and to enable him to focus on his studies.

Gary told us why he chose to study Physiological Sciences, “The course provided me with a broad and comprehensive understanding of human biology and the biomedical sciences – ranging from the study of the gastrointestinal, respiratory, nervous and cardiovascular systems, to the molecular basis of disease, clinical microbiology and histopathology. Not only was it academic interest that made me pursue this particular degree, but it was also personal interest - having experienced illness first-hand in my family, I became fascinated with the science of medicine and how the body functions both as a whole and at the level of individual cells. I’m now very proud to say that I will be graduating from the programme in July with a First-class honours!  This is something that would not have been possible without the help I received from the Futures Fund.”

Gary received support from the Futures Fund and explained how he used the funding to enable him to excel in his final year. “Thanks to the money I received, I have been able to live in my own apartment and complete my final year of university without having to take up employment, with all of my expenditures and living costs covered by the scholarship. Having this financial freedom has meant I have been able to focus solely on my studies and commit all of my time to exam revision and the completion of module coursework. I was particularly thankful of this during the January 2019 examination period when I had three three-hour essay-style exams to sit and take. This was such a stressful and mentally draining period for me which would have only been exacerbated by the additional financial pressures that were alleviated by receiving the scholarship. I am happy to report that through my hard work and determination, I achieved a first in every single piece of coursework (one even 100%!) and in all of my exams. In fact, I was notified I was even the highest achiever in several of the modules!”

Looking toward the future, Gary has thought about his next steps after completing his undergraduate degree. “By receiving the scholarship, I have had the opportunity to also undertake extra-curricular activities. This includes taking up the role of student representative, as well as going on work experience to gain a real insight into the professional routes I could take following graduation. For instance, in my application for this scholarship, I mentioned how I wanted to pursue a career as a physicians associate in the NHS. However, by having the time to go out and explore this area of work on placement in a GP practice, I came to the conclusion that this was not in fact the role for me. Instead, a recent experience of working with A-level students upon their visit to the University re-ignited a lifelong ambition to be a teacher. I have subsequently submitted my application to study a PGCE in the Post-Compulsory Education and Training (PCET) sector, and I am hoping to secure a place for September. Looking further ahead, at some point I would also like to pursue a Master’s degree in Microbiology or Human Physiology as I would love the opportunity to further my knowledge and skills in these areas.

I would like to finish by mentioning some exciting news which I have just discovered upon the writing of this report. Following nomination by my programme leader, I am beyond happy to state that I am going to be awarded the Physiological Society ‘Undergraduate Prize in Physiology 2019’! This achievement, along with attaining a first in my degree, would not have been achievable without the support from the scholarship, and more specifically, without the generosity of the Futures Fund donors. It is because of their help that I have been able to reach my full academic potential and leave university as a professional, highly qualified graduate, and for that, I’m truly thankful.”

Bringing science to the next generation

New graduate Gary White has been named one of the most exceptional young scientists in the region, and has decided to share his knowledge with the next generation as a teacher.

Gary, 22, graduated top of his year with a First Class degree in BSc Physiological Sciences from the University of Sunderland this summer. Work experience with A-Level students convinced Gary that teaching was the right path for him – and he’ll be back at Sunderland in October to study for his postgraduate teaching certificate.

Gary, from Sunderland, begins his PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education) course in October and has already secured a place teaching at Newcastle College in their health sciences department.

“I came to Sunderland because of the facilities,” says Gary. “I came to an Open Day for a look around, and compared to Newcastle and Northumbria universities it was definitely the best learning environment for me.

“I loved my time studying. The best thing about Sunderland is the lecturers.  You can speak to them any time you want, and it’s very informal, it’s almost like talking to a friend.”

Gary had originally planned to train to become a Physician’s Associate for the NHS, but work experience at a GP’s surgery convinced him that it wasn’t the career for him.

“Soon after that I worked with A-Level students who were visiting the University, and that refuelled my original dream of becoming a teacher.”

While he was studying Gary found he was struggling to achieve what he knew he was capable of, and approached the University’s Development Office to help him live independently, and free up more of his time for study and research. Gary was granted a Futures Fund Excellence Scholarship, part of the University’s award-winning DOSH scheme (Development Office Scholarships) which is open to all students studying at the University of Sunderland.

“The Futures Fund helped me live independently, and meant I didn’t have to take a part time job. I was able to really commit myself to my final year, so I could literally be in the labs every single day.

“My research project was on bacterial resistance, and it’s now in the process of being published to a journal. I also received the Undergraduate Physiology Prize from the Physiological Society, and I got a First.

“Those three things would definitely have not have been possible if it wasn’t for the Futures Fund scholarship.”

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