MSJ 2015 leaver

Malvern Alumnae 100 Katie Barnes

From a young age I have worked extremely hard in order to achieve academically and was diagnosed with dyslexia, aged 11. At MSJ I excelled on the sports field but the high demands of A Level Chemistry often left me flailing; A Level results day didn’t produce an overwhelming sense of joy either! Finding myself in Clearing made me wonder whether I had the capability of spending the next three years in academia. Yet despite this, in September 2015 I began a Biomedical Science degree at Oxford Brookes University.

In these three undergraduate years, a whole multitude of personal changes occurred. For the first time, something clicked. My confidence and academic capabilities escalated, placing me amongst the top 5% of my cohort. One of the hardest challenges was selecting a topic for my undergraduate research project. Drawing upon personal experience and as a diabetic myself, I decided to set up bespoke E-mentoring for type one diabetic patients aged 13 to 18. The aim was to address the question ‘Do type one diabetic patients between 13 to 18 year olds demonstrate improved blood glucose control and psychological management following mentor directed digital engagement?

On discussing my project with others I was surprised by the sheer amount of interest there was in the programme. I was also shocked when Worcestershire Royal Hospital Paediatric Diabetes Department told me that they supported the project and would facilitate the recruitment of participants and collection of their data. An additional highlight occurred when the Society of Endocrinology presented me with their Undergraduate Achievement Award for the highest mark in an undergraduate research project.

However, I wouldn’t say that university life was plain sailing. The experience was mentally exhausting and the prospect of dropping out was contemplated on numerous occasions. During this time I utilised my feelings to help support those around me. I hosted charity and social events to raise the awareness of mental health issues in students. During Eating Disorder Awareness Week, I organised several events to raise money for the eating disorder charity ‘BEAT’.

The past three years have emphasised that even if you do not initially succeed, do not give up. There will always be ways that you can overcome personal challenges and employ pre-existing knowledge to propel you forward. At the moment I am putting this into practice to assess what career path I would like to take in the future, whilst utilising my passion to improve the quality of others’ lives by working in a local care home and at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.  

What does success look like?

Success is input, not outcome. Whatever it is you want to achieve, embark upon your journey with energy, compassion, tenacity and courage and do not forget about those things you love.

What is your best piece of advice?

Each person you meet will have a different story. Listen, learn and connect. When you relate to a particular individual who is of interest to you, don’t be afraid to ask for their help an