- Course: Chemistry and Mathematics MChem, BSc
- Year of graduation: Current student
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rubyrobinson99/
Ruby is undertaking her MChem, BSc degree in Chemistry and Mathematics at the University of Leeds. She is in her fourth year of a five year undergraduate degree, having completed an industrial placement year.
Undergraduate life at Leeds
Ruby really didn't know what she wanted to do at university when she chose her A-Levels, and just picked subjects she enjoyed the most. “I had attended a Mathematics residential course at Leeds in my first year of A-Levels, and loved the city! It was then that I found out that Leeds offered Chemistry and Mathematics joint honours undergraduate degree, and I had my heart set on it as soon as I heard about it. I really couldn't think of giving up either of the two subjects so being able to take both was eye opening. A lot of the other courses which offered both Chemistry and Mathematics normally set a set major/ minor component, and what I liked about the course at Leeds was that you could pick your own direction with it.
The University has also supported my journey into Higher Education. I receive an academic scholarship from the department and have received the Leeds Bursary (previously Leeds Financial Support) as I come from a low-income household. Having this additional financial support made coming to university more accessible for me and has helped me to focus on my studies instead of having to take up a part time job (although I have worked within the university). It also made coming to university a less daunting prospect (at least financially).
Having this additional financial support made coming to university more accessible for me and has helped me to focus on my studies.
The best part of my course is being able to pick what you want to do. I've done a variety of modules and explored areas of both subjects which have interested me. There's also the chance to do discovery modules so I'm currently doing a physics modelling module which I'm really enjoying. I think the flexibility of the course and knowing you're gaining the skills you need to go into professions in both subjects makes it a great choice.”
A lot of the other courses which offered both Chemistry and Mathematics normally set a set major/ minor component, and what I liked about the course at Leeds was that you could pick your own direction with it.
“I've also tried to make the most out of my time at university. I am active in quite a few societies. I have done kickboxing for the last four years and really enjoyed having some sport to do! I am a course ambassador, a committee member for the conservation society, and a Halls committee member. I think one of the best things about Leeds as a university is the range of things you can get involved in.
As a course ambassador for Chemistry and Mathematics, I've been involved helping with Open days and when we have visitors into the department. For Open days, I'm normally the student you get sent to if you aren't sure quite what you'd like to study at university, because I was in that position four years ago! I've given tours around the campus and talk to prospective students and their parents about the different courses the School of Chemistry offers, and my experience of the joint honours course and Leeds as a university. I also had the chance to help in the labs, demonstrating to a group of year 12 students from a local college which I found really rewarding, to help give a glimpse into what university labs are like. Doing so also helped to show me how much more confident I'd become in the labs since starting my degree.”
I had the chance to help in the labs, demonstrating to a group of year 12 students from a local college which I found really rewarding.
I've also been a member of the LUU Conservation Volunteers for four years and originally got involved because I am passionate about the environment and wanting to give something back to Leeds. I was elected as the treasurer in my second year, which involved me applying for funding for events, as well as organising and promoting task days and socials. We did a residential to the Peak District, which was a lot of fun (even though it was very windy and cold!). The society normally gets involved with maintenance of green areas in and around Leeds, but has worked with the RSPB and the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) in the wider Yorkshire area. One of my favourite things I've done with the society has been a beach clean on the North Yorkshire coast, which really opened my eyes to the plastic litter that accumulates on the beaches and its impact on the marine wildlife. Being part of the society has also allowed me to make friends with likeminded people who care about the environment.
Being part of the society has also allowed me to make friends with likeminded people who care about the environment.
The best bit of being on my Halls committee was throwing events and getting to know the other people in the building! Moving to university can be a bit of an isolating experience but you're all in the same boat in halls, and I put myself forward for the role so that I could get to know more people. I helped organised events such as a weekly park run, Secret Santa, themed Otley Runs and a post-exams pizza night which was a big success. The fancy picture of me is from the awards night, and as a committee we got Best Use of the Budget and Green Halls Award (we did an event with the Woodhouse Ridge Action Group clearing the woodland behind my Halls), and for my work as president I got the Leadership award - mainly for ensuring things went to plan and helping to get international students involved in the Leeds community.
Moving to university can be a bit of an isolating experience but you're all in the same boat in halls, and I put myself forward for the role so that I could get to know more people.
Year in industry
“I decided to do a year in industry as I wanted to see a more practical application of the Chemistry I'd learnt in my undergraduate degree course. I received a lot of support in the application process and during my year in industry from both my tutor and the Employability team.
For my project on placement, I worked as an analytical scientist on environmental samples. I really enjoyed creating my own methods and testing them, and it felt really rewarding to see a bigger picture to the Chemistry I was doing. Outside of this, I was the representative for the placement students, taking part in meetings and helping to improve the industrial placement scheme within the company (I received the EPS Leadership Award for the work I did in this role). I also achieved Registered Scientist from the Royal Society of Chemistry.
On a typical week during my placement, I would spent three days of the week running routine processes or doing research for my project in the laboratory, and spent the rest of the week getting involved in meetings and data analysis. The experience has made me realised I am a much better analytical chemist than I thought! I also learnt that I actually enjoy giving presentations.”
Ruby already has a job offer to go back to work in her placement role after graduation, but her long term goal is to train to be a teacher. “I was part of the ASCENT 121 mentoring programme, which involved me going into a school in Leeds and helping disadvantaged students with their GCSE science and found it really rewarding.”
Advice and tips
If you can't pick between the two subjects, don't. I'm really happy that I chose to do the joint honours because it's allowed me to pick my own direction and figure out what I wanted to do.
“My advice would be, if you can't pick between the two subjects, don't. I'm really happy that I chose to do the joint honours because it's allowed me to pick my own direction and figure out what I wanted to do. When I started, I could have never seen myself having achieved what I have, and I think that's down to the flexibility and skills I've learnt over the last four years.”
Find out more
Discover more about our Undergraduate degree courses in the School of Chemistry.