Heather Purshouse

Heather Purshouse

Why did you decide to study your course?

I've been determined to work in the WASH sector since being a civil engineering undergraduate. Taking a postgraduate course in water, sanitation and health engineering seemed like the most obvious career move, in addition to being a great deal of fun.

Why did you choose the University of Leeds?

I decided to study at Leeds because of the lecturers. They are internationally renowned in their fields; it would be hard to find better people to learn from anywhere else in the world. 

How did you find settling into university life?

Settling in at Leeds was easy! It must be one of the most friendly and down-to-earth places I've ever been. There's a lot of support available for students, and all the staff are very approachable.

What was the best aspect of the course and why?

One of the best aspects of my course was my fellow students. We all came from different backgrounds and career stages, and covered 5 countries on 3 continents between us. Through sharing our experiences from the field, I learned as much from them as I did from lectures. 

Were you involved in any activities outside of your studies during your time at Leeds?

I love the outdoors, so Leeds was a great place to be. There's a rock climbing wall on campus, accompanied by a friendly climbing community. If you venture out further, there are wonderful places to climb around Leeds city and beyond (both indoors and out!). 

What experiences at Leeds do you think will help you with your future career?

The course prepares you for being a practitioner, not just an academic. I've already dug out my lecture notes and assignments several times since leaving. The most useful experience was probably my dissertation, which I did in conjunction with Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP) as part of a cross-departmental research project and allowed me to carry out fieldwork in Kenya.

What are you doing at the moment? What are your ambitions for the future?

I'm currently in Nepal doing a septage management assessment for the Kathmandu Valley. Sounds gross, but it's actually a fascinating topic that's been neglected by policy makers despite being critical for public health. The tools used were partly developed at Leeds, and will potentially be used for monitoring the Post-2015 Development Goals. This is one of the best things about Leeds; you are surrounded by studies at the cutting-edge of world development efforts, and given the opportunity to get involved! 

Do you have any advice for prospective students?

Work hard, seize every opportunity, and enjoy every second!