Ruth Alexander, MSc Wildlife and Conservation Management, Aberdeen

“I've always been interested in wildlife and conservation and have done loads of environmental work. This particular course appealed to me because it covers such a wide range of topics - perfect for a career changer like me.”

Ruth Alexander, 51, found her first calling in life was the theatre, reading Theatre, Film and Television for her first degree at the University of Glasgow. She later moved into stage management, where she would spend the next 30 years. Then came time for a change.

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Newly redundant at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, she was inspired to undertake an MSc in Wildlife and Conservation Management after a colleague applied to SRUC and used her as a reference.

“I thought it looked brilliant and applied the same day,” she said. “I can honestly say I've used the learning from every single module - the combination of topics, from Farming and Forestry to Managing the Outdoors for People and the Environment has stood me in good stead.”

She added: “My studies helped me gain my current job with the National Trust for Scotland, and being able to undertake my MSc part-time via distance learning gave me the flexibility to work throughout my course.”

In addition to the pandemic, there were the added challenges of balancing work, study and the needs of two young children.

“It feels like our cohort had quite a lot thrown at us. It was virtually impossible to juggle caring commitments with my job and my research. I had to use a lot of annual leave and work late into the night - I am very grateful to my long-suffering husband!”

This invaluable support didn’t just come from her family however, but from her lecturers too, who made accommodations and offered help whenever needed.

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“I've felt very supported by the SRUC teaching staff who have offered one-to-one sessions and comprehensive and generous feedback. It has felt like their door is always open. Despite being a distance learner, there was a real sense of community. All the lecturers were really positive and welcoming.”

And her journey back into education is only just starting.

“This course has re-awakened my love of learning, so I'm also keeping a wee eye out for PhD opportunities, but don't tell my husband.“