Posted Tuesday 13 August 2013
Would-be medic Tamara Swales feared she might not be able to follow her dream of one day becoming a doctor after college results slightly lower than anticipated left her without a place at university. A call to the Clearing hotline at Kingston University soon put her back on the first step in her career path though and, two years on, she's now preparing to move into her final year of a medical biochemistry degree.
"At first I was quite concerned about what would happen when I didn't get the results I needed to go straight into a degree in medicine," Tamara said. Having studied the challenging International Baccalaureate Diploma at college, she got her marks ahead of A-level results day. This gave her time to do some research and narrow down her list of universities to call. "I got straight on the phone when the Clearing hotlines opened. The first university I called just wasn't friendly at all," she said. "I didn't feel reassured or inspired, so I decided I'd move on and give Kingston a call. The hotline operators were really enthusiastic and friendly and, although my first choice of biomedical science was full, they helped me find a place on a medical biochemistry course instead."
Tamara is confident that studying the subject has set her in good stead for the career in medicine she one day hopes to pursue. "My time at Kingston University has prepared me so much more than I could have imagined for the next stage of study that lies ahead. I'm so familiar now with the subject matter and professional approaches and am starting to think about a graduate medicine course. It feels like things have really worked out for the best," she enthused. Tamara is even considering possibly moving on to St George's, University of London, which runs a joint faculty of health, social care and education with Kingston University, for her medical degree.
Since coming to Kingston, Tamara has not only thrown herself into her studies but has also got involved in many other aspects of university life such as the Students' Union netball team. She's also taken part in its volunteering programme, which has offered her relevant work experience alongside her studies. "Every other Saturday I work with disabled children and young people to help them take part in sports at local charity RISE," the 20 year old said. "I've also got a place at Kingston Hospital in the autumn to help out on the wards and visit elderly people."
Tamara is a student ambassador and loves the fact the role has given her a chance to help and guide other students through their courses. "When I started at Kingston University there was a special Welcome Team of students who met everyone at the start of term making freshers feel so relaxed and confident. They confirmed in my mind that I had made the right choice coming to Kingston," she said. "They inspired me to sign up as an ambassador so I could take part in events and show people both inside and outside the University that Kingston is a great student community to be a part of."
Moving from her home in Nottingham to Kingston just before term started was slightly daunting Tamara recalled, but her fears were soon alleviated when she got a link through from the Accommodation Team to the University's student noticeboard. "There's a Facebook Group that helps students looking for somewhere to live to find each other and match up their requests," she explained. "Within a week of signing up, I had my house share fixed up and that, to me, was the greatest relief."
With more Clearing telephone lines than ever available at Kingston this year to deal with the thousands of callers expected to be looking for courses and information, Tamara recommends potential students keep calm, do their research and keep their sights set firmly on a university education. "I know Clearing can be an anxious time, but my advice would be to keep motivated and don't be disheartened. Sometimes things can work out even better than expected. Take it from me - I haven't looked back since I made that call."