Sakina Amin, BSc Biological Sciences

Sakina Amin

Why did you choose the University of Leeds?

I chose to study at the University of Leeds because of its student-friendly atmosphere and future career goals into research. The University of Leeds has a lot of cutting- edge research in the field of biology and it would give me a lot of opportunities while studying and after graduation. I was also awarded the Dean's Excellence Scholarship of £5000 to support my studies in the University.

What have been the highlights of your time at the University of Leeds?

I feel every single part of my journey is a highlight. I do not regret any part and cherish every moment and opportunity I have received in the university. My best moments were when I got selected to be a halls exec, a committee member for NHSF society, a student ambassador for the Faculty of Biological Sciences. I have also got the chance to go on trips as a trip leader and explore the wilderness of the country and given many opportunities to develop research skills. Currently, I have the opportunity to work with PhD students and shadow them and now I’m going to shadow Dr Jayasinghe in molecular microscopy. I was also excited to be invited for Gatsby summer school and got shortlisted for FBS awards as a molecular and cellular biology student ambassador.

Tell us about being a student caller, why do you think it is helpful for new students to speak to current currents?

As a student caller, I speak to prospective students who are interested in coming to Leeds and answer any questions they might have. Being a student caller, it was a very important role to convey the right message and tell the prospective students about the university and moving in here. Many of them had really important questions about their future career, their faith and religion and about international diversity and culture. I think it is very important for new students to speak to current students as it helps them form decisions regarding their choices. It is a very daunting experience to move into a different country and settle and by talking to student callers it gives them a sense of comfort that they are provided with all the help they require in their journey of moving in and excelling in their academic and extra-curricular grounds.  

What would you say to new students thinking about studying in Leeds?

The University of Leeds will provide the best experience regarding academics, socials, societies, opportunities, research experience and much more. It provides wholesome learning in all areas and directs you to improvise in your presentation skills, develop them and motivates all -round the year with different awards which challenges one to strive towards excellence.

What extra opportunities have you been a part of while you’ve been at Leeds, and what did you do?

I’m a student ambassador for the Faculty of Biological Sciences and I got shortlisted for the Faculty of Biological Sciences and awards. I’m also part of the mentoring scheme. I have currently applied for Laidlaw scholarship to enhance my research and leadership skills over the summer. I’m also a trip leader and visit places in England over the weekend. It is a really enriching experience as I make new friends every week and take them and bring back to the university. It is a role of high responsibility ensuring the safety of other students and helping them explore a different city. I also got an opportunity as a volunteer in my Halls of residence as a halls executive, where a team of halls execs come together to discuss various issues in the residences and plan events for them in the best possible manner.

Have you joined any student societies/sports clubs at the university? If so how has this enhanced your time at the University?

Yes, I have joined few societies and I’m part of NHSF(National Hindu student Forum) society committee as a first-year marketing officer. I really enjoy the committee meetings and give it a go by different societies. They are really enriching and gives me a break from the normal routine activities of the university. I try to experience different societies which brings me out of my comfort zone. I really appreciate that there exists society for every possible interest one could have, and it caters to the needs of everyone. I personally feel that the Leeds University Union and societies are a very integral part of my University life and it freshens me up in order for me to work harder.

What are your ambitions for the future? Do you have specific career plans?

I’m considering to be in a research-oriented career. I plan to do a PhD after my BSc biological sciences degree. The faculty has helped me a lot in achieving my goal, especially my personal tutor.  The careers centre along with my tutor have helped me in my applications, recommendation letter and CV. My tutor gave me an opportunity to work in his laboratory and shadow his PhD students. This opportunity gave me a chance to learn and develop molecular techniques which complement my degree. I also got a chance to apply for the Gatsby summer school being a high-achieving student. Careers centre also gave me a chance to be in the “nurturing talent mentor scheme’ which helps students get professional advice from mentors in the industry.

Are there any significant differences between studying at Leeds and your home country?

Yes, there is a very different approach in the way studies are dealt with in my home country India, and in the UK. The studies back home are more theoretical and do not cater to a variety of lab experiments as in the UK. The techniques, equipment, academics and cutting- edge research help us grow into independent scientists in terms of working and designing a scientific project.

The writing style for essays, lab reports is different and new. Many basic theoretical parts aren’t covered in our equivalent A-levels syllabus back home, but the university has this basic module which tries to bring everyone to the same level and conducts a formative exam on every new aspect which provides a chance to look over to the feedback and work on the areas of development pointed out by the respective faculty member.

As an international student tell us about how staff support has helped you throughout your time at university?

The staff is really supportive throughout my time at University until now. I remember I was feeling blue and too stressed about exams even though I seemed to be prepared, my module manager helped me a lot. She listened to me very patiently and advised me. They have also directed me to learning techniques as I had never written things like essay or lab reports or had never stood in front of peers for a presentation. The staff with their excellent feedback has helped me shape for the better.