Mark Dickson is graduating this summer with a degree in Biomedical Science.
Mark always wanted to work for the NHS in the biomedical field but left school without the right qualifications to get into this line of work.
This was always something that played on his mind so after being out of education for four years, Mark took a leap of faith:
“I decided to enrol in a university access course at Belfast Met as a mature student – aged 23. It was genuinely one of the most difficult years of my education but it was also the most rewarding as I was awarded a distinction, allowing me to proceed to the Biomedical Science undergraduate programme at Ulster University. The one-year NHS placement Ulster University course offers was one of the main driving factors for me choosing to study here.”
Mark’s main worry before undertaking the course was the challenge of becoming a mature student, as he didn’t have the same support network that was available to him when he was 18. He couldn’t afford to relocate to Coleraine and instead travelled 120 miles daily to class and back home to his job in a supermarket to fund his studies. But being a mature student also had its benefits – Mark believes that with his maturity, he found that he was more focused and driven to achieve the best he could.
Mark gained the experience he yearned for with a year’s placement opportunity in an NHS laboratory which provided him with the relevant lab skills and work experience. Growing in confidence, Mark describes what completing his degree has meant for him:
“Seeing what I could achieve, I didn’t think that I could have achieved a First Class honours degree back in first year. Just seeing where trying my best can get me is extremely rewarding.”
Mark has secured a place on a highly sought after Masters research project in a world-renowned research centre in Indiana in the United States, which has a global outreach to multiple academic institutions, industry leaders and communities aiming to improve human health. Mark is excited about emigrating to Indiana in August to complete his research alongside online classes with Ulster.
Mark describes his overall Ulster University experience:
“A testament that hard work along with a great education programme, and the invaluable resources that Ulster provides, encourages you to flourish and go anywhere in the world to follow and even surpass your education and career goals.”