Ticking the boxes | An Eventful Life

Ticking the boxes

       Hmm… blogging… where to start .....


All my life I was going to be a vet. I took all the right subjects, did all the right work experience, applied to all the right universities, but just didn’t get all the right grades and so didn’t get an offer. All of a sudden I was in the same position as most other school leavers… how on earth do you decide on a degree, a university, a career, when you’re not really sure what you want to do?

I liked the idea of going to university in or around Nottingham. It was far enough away from home to feel grown-up and independent, but I had family in the area if I needed them. I went to an open day at Nottingham Trent University and loved the Brackenhurst campus. It’s in the middle of nowhere and has cows and sheep and horses and I felt very much at home.

The next question was what to study. I got offers for two equine courses and a zoo biology course, and decided I wanted to study something other than horses. I went down the zoo biology route and thoroughly enjoyed it, but I was a bit sick of zoos by the end. I realised that research was what I was really passionate about, and decided that I wanted to contribute to keeping animals happy and healthy in the first place, rather than making them better when they were sick. Bye bye veterinary dreams. This led to a master’s degree in anthrozoology, looking at how humans and animals interact, where I was able to start looking at domestic species, rather than exotic ones.

While I was writing up my dissertation for my MRes, my supervisor pointed out a PhD that was on offer at NTU. It ticked all my boxes. Research - tick, animal welfare – tick, outdoorsy – tick, technology – tick. In all honesty, I think my master’s dissertation suffered as a result of trying to apply for the PhD at the same time as writing it up but hey ho, the opportunity wasn’t going to wait around for me so I went for it, all guns blazing.

Now here I am, 6 months in to a PhD, having come full circle from not wanting to study horses to being fully immersed in horses, eventing and equine science. I have met more people than I could have imagined, and been offered more opportunities than I could have hoped for. I need to keep a handle on things because as a lecturer so helpfully pointed out, no thesis means no PhD, no matter how many contacts you have. I hope I can maintain the balance, we’ll have to wait and see!

Jess' study involving Nottingham Trent University is co-funded by An Eventful Life and utilises An Eventful Life's video footage to help identify and reduce the risk of injury to horse and rider in eventing - find out more here