Class of 2017 - Your plans after graduation

Siobhan Walker

Siobhan Walker

BSc (Hons) Sports & Exercise Sciences

Studying at Sunderland has opened up an unexpected career path for student Siobhan Walker – even before she graduated. 

Siobhan originally left education with no intention of coming to university, but when she fell pregnant at 19 she suffered from scoliosis - curvature of the spine – and working with physiotherapists convinced Siobhan that she would like to pursue a career in personal training and physiotherapy. 

Siobhan said: “When my daughter Kaitlin was born I was like a blown over tree! I thought if physiotherapy can help me, maybe I can do that for other people. 

“In my second year of university I began volunteering at the University for the Performance Clinic, eventually taking over the Stroke Rehabilitation Project that they run. I threw myself into the University, working as a gym instructor and a personal trainer over the summer, and I’m now a fully qualified sports masseuse.” 

Professional racing driver Reece Barr, who competes in the JCW BMW mini series, approached the University’s Sport Sciences team to help support him with his fitness, stamina and concentration. Academics immediately turned to Siobhan, as they recognised that her expertise in personal training and sports massage, and her studies in sports nutrition, would be an ideal fit for the young driver’s fitness needs.  

“I look after Reece’s nutrition, monitor his fitness, and we talk every single day. I’ve made working with him part of my day, so I can balance that, my studies and spending time with my daughter. Everything that I do intertwines with my degree, and most of the races tend to be on the weekend so I can take Kaitlin with me.” 

The racing team were so impressed with Siobhan’s support that in 2016 she was appointed Personal Advisor to driver Reece Barr. 

She added: “When Kaitlin was born it was like a rebirth for me, and I started to think about who I was and what I wanted out of life. It’s crazy to think that having a baby would make you think about going into education, but I wanted to do something for me. 

“When I first started working with Reece I made the decision not to stand back. I just though, ‘I’ve been given this amazing opportunity, I can’t waste it’.”

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