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Darren Gardner

Gateshead, UK

BSc (Hons) Medicinal Chemistry

Darren Gardener always had an interest in science. He had planned to take a gap year after his A Levels, but decided to apply to the University of Sunderland through clearing instead. Alongside his studies Darren secured a part-time role in an NHS lab, contributing to the Covid-19 response.

Before taking my A Level studies, I was already interested in how drugs worked in the body and how they were designed. So when my secondary school offered me and a few other students the chance to join some sixth form students on a trip to the University of Sunderland I gladly took up the offer. On the day of the trip, we had a look around the laboratories in the Science Complex and talked to quite a few staff. It was from then on, I knew this was where I wanted to study a degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences.

For my A Levels I studied Chemistry, Biology and Psychology. Science had always interested me, but due to the stress of exams I decided to take a gap year. Three weeks before University started I changed my mind and decided to enrol at the University of Sunderland through clearing. I was quickly accepted onto the Medicinal Chemistry course, something I’ve always wanted to study.

My favourite part of the course is probably learning about the theory behind organic chemistry and biochemistry and being able to explore that further and apply my knowledge during regular laboratory sessions in the well-equipped labs.

My advice to prospective students is take any opportunities provided and get yourself stuck in. And also don’t be afraid to ask for any help from members of staff. The staff have been more helpful to me than all my past teachers, they’re amazing!

I already had a part-time weekend job before and during university. But I’ve recently been employed by the NHS as a laboratory staff worker in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Originally, my course leaders sent out a notification that there was an advertisement for this job. So I decided to give it a shot, and I landed the job. Along the way the staff provided me with support, from checking my CV before applying, to helping me prepare for the interview. Since the job is laboratory based, I had picked up skills from my time at the University which I was able to talk about to my interviewer.

My experiences so far have been amazing. The staff have always been the best at helping and listening to their students here. Not only this, but compared to other forms of education, your hard work is actually recognised. And that means a lot to me especially, and likely other students too, because it encourages us to improve upon our work."

Published 9 June 2021

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