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This is a guest blog by Caitlin McQuillan, currently studying BSc (Hons) Ecology and Wildlife Conservation.

I’m just entering my placement year, where I will be a Countryside Ranger, based at Hengistbury Head and Stour Valley Nature Reserve. I chose this course because I have a passion for the environment and helping to protect it, and to help achieve my goal of working in environmental law.

My experience at BU has been interesting as halfway through my first year, Covid-19 hit which meant my course had to move online. Even though lectures were online, I’ve still been able to gain valuable work experience by taking part in research projects, field trips and work placements; providing me with knowledge and experience of what it’s like to work in this sector. I’m really grateful to BU’s work placement team too. They provided help and guidance when looking for a placement and enabled me to take part in so many worthwhile opportunities. Without them, I wouldn’t have my current work placement.

Bournemouth University also has fantastic opportunities for grants and bursaries. I received a financial grant from Santander who work with BU to provide financial support to students with autism. Due to this grant, I’ve been able to go on my year-long work placement.

I’m hard of hearing and I knew that going to university was always going to be challenge – but my journey so far has been a positive one. When I first started, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to hear the lecturers and miss important information. The Additional Learning Support (ALS) team have been extremely helpful in providing me with programmes, such as Read and Write, which enable me to record the audio from lectures and listen back.

Due to my hearing loss, I did find online learning quite challenging at times. It was harder for me to understand what lecturers were saying when the volume was low and there’s a PowerPoint on the screen which meant that I couldn’t lip read.

Since starting at BU, I feel like I’ve already come such a long way. The past couple of years has been a period of exciting change in my life and I look forward to continuing this.

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