Jayden Glinka talks about life as a Zoology student from Canada and a newfound love for ground beetles.

 

Why did I choose to study at Cumbria University?

I have always been innately curious about the natural world. Even as a pre-schooler, I was happiest surrounded by nature exploring animals outdoors and watching them move about and looking for food.

I grew up dreaming of being a zookeeper and as time has gone on, my passion for animals has developed more and more. It came as no surprise to my family when I told them I wanted to study Zoology and spend my future working with animals and defending the planet.

Living and studying in a foreign country had always appealed to me and I’ve always wanted to come to England as my family has distant relatives in the UK.

 

Stunning settings and affordable

Choosing to study at Cumbria University was an easy decision based on two things 1) how amazing the Lake District surroundings are, and 2) how affordable it was.

In Canada, most of our zoos are in big cities and it never made sense to me to study wildlife surrounded by cement. I wanted to study somewhere natural, and so Cumbria with its easy access to the Lake District National Park had huge appeal. As a location, it was also very affordable - one of the most inexpensive universities in the country in my opinion.

Once I found my course, I won a 50% scholarship to help support me with the tuition fees, and worked out my finances to see how affordable it all was – I went for it and have never looked back. No regrets. I’ve absolutely loved my three years at Cumbria. I quickly felt at home and felt like I belonged.

 

Hands-on and practical lectures

Looking back to when I arrived three years ago to register for the degree course, I quickly came to find out that Zoology was so much more than working in a zoo.

I loved my lectures in the first year because they were so hands-on and practical. All the Zoology academics gave me a wonderful introduction to all areas of zoology. I particularly enjoyed our regular local conservation walks where the class would identify species, study habitats, and explore how to maintain and preserve them.

Although more theoretical in the second and third years, I furthered my knowledge and lab/field research through visits to Scotland to survey and study wildlife. I learned how to identify, record, and monitor different species of animals in their natural environment from the local river to neighbouring farms. It was fascinating.

 

Support and encouragement

In Canada, I was trained to write differently and had never been taught how to cite references properly. The lecturers, especially Alex have been fantastic throughout and one of the main people to help me get through my studies. I remember how nervous I was to write and hand in my first essay, but Alex helped me and even set aside personal time to teach me how to cite references for the UK education system. He continued to support and encourage me as my Personal Tutor during my three years also which have benefitted me and my studies enormously.

 

Truly fantastic academics

Just recently, throughout my third year, the University has had a new group of lecturers join the Zoology programme. This group of academics is truly fantastic. I am sad that I’ve only had them teach me for one year as they are wonderful people. Through their passion for the subject, they have inspired my interest every day. They have set up a Zoology Facebook group and are always posting articles and leading information on the subject which is great.

They are all so welcoming and engaging. Even after class, they are more than happy to extend a chat about the topics covered in class or to discuss interesting things in the news. I’m always keen to hear their thoughts and to learn from their wealth of experience.

 

Inspiring passion for new areas of study

Clearly, my insect hunting days are not over…

I honestly thought the study of large animals would be my thing, but through what I have been exposed to in the degree, I have absolutely fallen in love with insects and have now completely thrown myself into the fascinating world of entomology – the study of insects and their relationship to humans, the environment, and other organisms.

I now have a vast interest in all insects. Cumbria is awash with dragonflies, ladybirds, moths, grasshoppers, and shield bugs but the insect I chose to focus on for my dissertation was the Ground Beetle. Looking at the biodiversity on the site and catching and identifying them was my favourite part and the really great thing is that the work that I completed as part of my dissertation is not just stopping but will have longevity as one of my lecturers is using my project and findings as an example in his academic talks.

 

Real-world work placements

I’ve been extremely fortunate to gain a split industrial work placement during my degree spending time and gaining vital employability skills at both the ‘Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery’ in Carlisle and the ‘Cumbria Biodiversity Data Centre. ‘

My placement year started at the Cumbria Biodiversity Data Centre (CBDC) a one-stop-shop for Cumbria’s biological records, biodiversity, and geological information. The CBDC collates and analyses Cumbria’s biodiversity data and the information produced supports the work of wildlife enthusiasts, consultants, planners, researchers, and members of the public who are interested in Cumbria’s biodiversity.

I supported them by working with their records and collecting data to go towards a government project looking at habitat connectivity and also organised their annual conference, virtually for the first time due to the pandemic.

Because I was the youngest one working there, they said “You do the tech” so I’m proud to say I gained a huge amount of experience and had a lot of fun coordinating every aspect of their online conference.

Next, at the Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery I landed a unique opportunity to help with the re-development of their natural section. I got to work in the entomology stores – one of the biggest collections in the North of England and even got to make my own case. For Pride Month, I created a case using natural science specimens which had lots of great feedback. It was great to see my work on display.

 

Learning extends beyond the classroom

I keep telling my parents that I’m grateful that I took a year’s industrial placement as part of my degree. I feel confident that the experience I have gained (alongside my Zoology degree) will benefit me and help me stand out when I start to apply for jobs in the future. Thanks to Cumbria, I now have a CV showing not just a degree but relevant work experience and two references – how many graduates do you know that are able to say that?

 

Furthering career ambitions

My future. What’s next?...

Zoology can lead to a whole range of employment opportunities. I could now go on to work in zoological parks, aquariums, state or federal governmental agencies, laboratories, museums, or environmental conservation groups.

For now, education-wise, I plan to return to Canada and gain my Geographical Information System (GIS) Certificate where I will learn unique skills for landscape analysis and how to connect and conserve species. It’s an area that is high in demand but takes a lot of skill, so am looking forward to signing up and completing further education in this area.

I am so excited to see what my future holds as a zoologist or wildlife biologist of the future – the possibilities are endless.

 

 

Visit our Zoology programmes in the Institute of Science and Environment

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