BSc Mathematics - Andrew Kingston
My name is Andrew Kingston and I graduated from Northumbria University with an upper second (2-1) degree in Mathematics in July 2005.
I left school in 1997 aged 18 with three 'A' Levels and entered employment with the leisure industry. I was promoted numerous times, to reach the position of deputy manager by aged 21 for one of the company’s flagship leisure outlets. However, although this promotion was an excellent achievement, I was never completely satisfied with this employment and found it was often bereft of any intellectual challenge.
My schooling years left me with a fervent interest in Mathematics, thus in April 2002 after 5 years in the leisure industry, I made enquiries and an application to study Mathematics at Northumbria University beginning in September 2002. It was a monumental decision to leave full-time employment after five years; however the process was vastly simplified by the support services made available, in terms of advice that was given with respect to finance and fees, and made the transition from employee to student enormously simple, and in fact rather enjoyable!
I chose Mathematics because of my aforementioned interest and also because I consider it a ‘gate-keeper’ subject, in-so-far as it has the ability to open a lot of doors to a lot of careers. I chose Northumbria University because of the varied content of the degree course; it provides theory and learning in the pure, applied and statistical areas of mathematics which was one of the most important aspects that influenced my decision. I wanted grounding in all areas to improve my employability and also to focus my interest in a particular area of Mathematics should further study after the degree be my chosen route.
Not having practiced any Mathematics for five years I worried that this would present a challenge in that I would have forgotten a lot of what I learned at A’ Level. Some of this turned out to be true. However, this did not present the challenge I had expected as it was alleviated by the ‘open-door’ policy of the tutors who taught the various modules. There were times during the first few months where I had forgotten some pretty rudimentary algebraic skills; however these were swiftly and patiently sorted out. I could visit the tutors’ offices and they would make their time available (if not there-and-then, an appointment would be made promptly) and they work through the Mathematics with you until an understanding was achieved. This ‘open-door’ policy was the culture of the Mathematics department throughout the entire degree course and across every module. It proved a precious source of immense help.
The various modules I studied over three years provided me with a multitude of skills ranging from the analytical mind of a Mathematician and a logical thought process attained through the study of Mathematics itself; through to the interpersonal skills required for working in group situations and report writing; with these augmented through the group work modules that were studied too.
I graduated from Northumbria in July 2005 and was offered a place on the PGCE in Secondary Mathematics course at Newcastle University. I found after 8 months that teaching was not something that I wanted to take forward. After studying on the degree I had learned that I had an interest in Statistics and in particular Medical Statistics and wanted to study this further. I therefore applied for a studentship at the University of Leicester for a Masters Degree in Medical Statistics however I was too late for entry in September 2006 but was advised to apply for entry in September 2007. In the mean time I took up employment with Sustrans as a Research Assistant for one year. During this year I re-applied for the studentship at Leicester University and was selected as an application that would be considered for funding from GlaxoSmithKline. I was invited to the GSK Science Discovery Park in Harlow, Essex where I was interviewed for sponsorship for the MSc. From over one hundred fifty candidates I was one of ten people (and the only one from Leicester University) who successfully secured funding from GSK; they subsequently paid over £3000 for my tuition fees and granted me a stipend of £1050 per month for the duration of the course.
I took up study on the MSc in September 2007 and graduated with a Merit in October 2008 during which time I had successfully secured employment with The Institute for Ageing and Health at Newcastle University as a Medical Research Statistician where I was up against post-graduate PhD and Oxbridge graduates during interview. This institute is one of the leading ageing research institutes in Europe.
Currently I am still in employment with Newcastle University and am enjoying this very much. However I believe that it has been the degree in Mathematics that has projected me in the direction I am following right now. It has provided the launch pad in so many ways; in terms of interest in the subject of medical statistics and mathematics in general and also in terms of interpersonal skills; I am not somebody who has studied mathematics alone for three years but someone who has also worked in active collaboration with my peers to achieve common mathematical goals.
Overall, the three years on the degree course was truly enjoyable and an experience I shall never forget. I made friends for life amongst my peers AND tutors. It was an invaluable learning opportunity that has shaped my life in so many ways and most certainly for the better in terms of employability and my contentedness in the work I do.
Overall it’s a fantastic degree that opens doors with an excellent supportive department; it’s a place where peers and tutors become friends for life with fond memories, but most importantly of all, it’s a great education for which I am truly thankful.
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