Shannon’s Journey to HE

Friday 12th November 2021

Name: Shannon

A-levels: Geography, English Language and Literature (Joint), Photography, Psychology

Degree course(s) and institutions: BSc Geography at Sheffield Hallam University, Masters of Research Polar and Alpine Change at The University of Sheffield

Favourite modules: Glaciers and glaciation; Fluvial geomorphology; International Fieldwork; Geographical Information Systems

Current role: Graduate Hydraulic Modeller at RES Environmental Ltd

Description of your journey through HE and how it got you your role/encouraged you to pursue your passion within the field of geography:

I come from a background where there is a low uptake of people going into further education and higher education, but my passion for learning encouraged me to continue my studies onto university.

At Sheffield Hallam, I mostly picked the subjects I enjoyed most – I wanted to make the most out of the vast array of modules on offer, so I specialised in physical geography. Some of my favourite modules were those based around water and glaciers, which I chose to continue to study further after I finished my BSc in Geography. In the summer of my third year at university I was able to take part in a funded research project in Iceland, which further pushed me to embrace my passion for water and glaciology. I decided to continue on at university to complete a Masters in Alpine and Polar Change at The University of Sheffield as a means to further the research I conducted at undergraduate level.

Whilst I was at university, I was part of the Geography Society which was a wonderful way to meet people and interact with the city. We went on trips to the Peak District, trips abroad, and had the opportunity to take part in a Sleep Out with the Cathedral Archer Project, which enabled me to connect with local charities and fundraise. I was privileged to be invited to take part in Posters in Parliament, an event where I presented my dissertation topic to a group of MPs in London. This improved my confidence and presentation skills greatly, though I had a lot of support from my peers, tutors, and lecturers for the event.

My initial intention was to pursue a career in something glaciers-related, but I found my current role through the RISE scheme in Sheffield. The intention of the scheme is to keep Sheffield graduates in the local area, and partners with small to medium enterprises to employ recent graduates. Though I knew it would be difficult to find a job related to glaciers, I found that I really enjoyed learning about fluvial geomorphology (rivers) and the water industry; in particular I was interested in the maths and physics associated with hydraulics. It was a no brainer to go into a field related to some of the modules I enjoyed the most – GIS and rivers. The practical concepts of fluvial geomorphology and knowledge of GIS software were really applicable from my studies into my work as a graduate hydraulic modeller.

Geography is such an applicable and interesting subject to study, and you can easily find an area which really piques your interest. It is so relatable to current affairs, and is easily one of the most multi-disciplinary subjects around – where else would you find maths and physics whilst stood in the middle of a river with 000s of years of history behind it?