Graduating from the Wildlife Media course in 2018, Rebecca Gibson’s highlights were seeing wild beavers for the first time on a Wild Intrigue expedition and getting the grant from the Hadfield Trust that allowed her to carry out an expedition to the Isles of Scilly for her Final Major Project.
Originally from Hertfordshire, Rebecca tells us ‘My mum gave me my love for nature. She would take me on walks and we'd collect feathers and stones and she'd teach me about the birds we saw. She learnt everything she knew from my grandad, so for me it's a really special thing that I hope to continue passing down through the generations’.
I looked at Edinburgh, Falmouth and Gloucester Uni’s but chose Cumbria because it was the only university that did the exact course I was looking for! I looked at BA Photography at other places but I much preferred the combination of photography and writing with wildlife, with is my main area of interest.
I knew that the University of Cumbria would be in a great location for photography between the Lakes and Scotland. Studying wildlife, it was important for me to have relatively easy access to wild places. I liked Carlisle because it was a big enough city to have all the resources I needed, but it was only a short drive to forests, beaches and open spaces.
I'm equally passionate about writing and photography, and Wildlife Media had an interesting combination of both of these areas, as well as filmmaking. I wanted an emphasis on nature/the outdoors, so I liked how my modules were focussed on these themes.
One of the things I really liked about the University of Cumbria was the flexibility it offered in its modules, allowing us to pursue our own interests within each assignment. Most of the students in my year were interested in filmmaking, whereas I was much keener on writing and photography. Although the assignment briefs were the same for all of us, we could all create something personal to our strengths and interests.
There were lots of resources aimed at making sure students felt comfortable and supported, some of which I used during my time there. All of the tutors were easy to talk to and I always felt I could approach them with a problem.
The course helped me to learn to be open to new things. I came to university mostly interested in photography, but having left my main focus is now writing. I have always loved writing but doing this degree helped me realise that I can pursue it professionally.
My lecturers inspired me to develop my skills, I got to know Heather Devey well during my time at university. She initially taught me a module in Wildlife Conservation in first year, and that summer I booked onto one of her Wild Intrigue expeditions to the Isle of Carna. We stayed in touch after she stopped teaching us and she later asked me to be the Creative Content Developer Intern for Wild Intrigue. This year-long role gave me the chance to join her and another UoC lecturer Cain Scrimgeour on other expeditions, which were some of the highlights of my uni experience. I have so much respect for Heather and think she is a real asset to wildlife conservation. I find her knowledge and passion so inspiring, and I will definitely be keeping in touch with her moving forward.
My career ambition is to be a full time author. I'm currently developing my skills writing fiction, as up until now I've focussed mainly on non-fiction. I'm also producing media work for SEZARC after my internship in Florida this summer, so I would love to continue working for them in 2019.
My advice to anyone thinking of coming to uni is do as much volunteering as you can. Almost everyone has a degree nowadays so it's all about what else you do with your time that matters. I tried to do as many internships as I could during uni - none of which were paid - and I think that this extra experience helped me get the subsequent roles I applied for. In a creative field especially, it's about more than just the degree.
For people like me who wanted a focus on the natural world in their studies, Wildlife Media and Adventure Media are both great courses for combining creative skills with an emphasis on the outdoors. In that respect, there is very little else like it in the UK.