Zuzana Palečková
Zuzana Palečková

Zuzana Palečková

BSc (Hons) Applied Biological Science student Zuzana Palečková (20) has swapped one of Europe’s most beautiful cities for another, to complete an integrated degree course.

Zuzana from Prague, is loving life in Stirling where she will study for two years at Forth Valley College and another two at the University of Stirling, in her efforts to find the right formula to begin a career in biology.

She said: “I did not enjoy my subjects and as a result I did not score high marks in them. Due to my low marks in maths, physics and IT, I could not get accepted for engineering and follow in my brother’s footsteps. So I started thinking about what I would truly like to study. I immediately realised I always longed to study biology.

“Fortunately I received a good mark in chemistry and so after going through websites and clearing, I found out about FVC’s Applied Biological Sciences integrated course. This was an ideal choice for me as I wanted to do a BSc (Hons) in Biology. It emphasised practical skills and it was in Scotland where I really wanted to go for my studies. There was no hesitation when I applied for this course.

“The laboratory facilities are great. I really appreciate the fact we can do all the work in pairs or individually as we really get the necessary experience and skills. It is very stressful sometimes, because we have to follow a protocol we have never seen before under time pressure and we are expected to obtain good data.

“Looking back however, I realise the value of this experience, as this is what it will be like in the workplace. As for the lecturers, they are very approachable and always ready to help. We get a lot of individual attention which, I believe this enables us to improve and learn from our mistakes as we get the necessary feedback.

“When I was looking at the Forth Valley College website I was immediately attracted by the areas I could specialise in once I would complete my degree. I discovered my passion for microorganisms. The idea of culturing, analysing and manipulating organisms and their genomes was so new and unexplored and it immediately caught my attention.

“The course has not only taught me biology, but it taught me a lot about myself. As time goes by we are required to present work at a higher level and better quality. In fact, I learned how my brain and thinking works and it enables me to adjust my studying to it, work with it and improve it.

“Furthermore I learned how to research reliable information, how to read scientific papers, how to present a detailed and well organised text and how to organise my time and work. In addition, the new knowledge we are constantly gaining shaped my view on the world around me, making me think more critically and more thoroughly about many different aspects.

“Forth Valley College gave me a second chance. It gave me the possibility to enter into a career in biology and learn about a wide range of different biology branches, enabling me to decide what I would like to pursue. I now would like to build on my knowledge and potentially apply for a PhD.

“I believe nowadays young people are asked to specialize very early. I believe this course enables students in biology to get a further chance and explore different areas as part of their degree, so they get a better idea of what different areas of biology consist of. We also get the chance to work independently and we really get the opportunity to handle all the laboratory apparatus ourselves and familiarise with it.

“also we are Forth Valley College students and University of Stirling students and it is possible to become part of both communities. I personally am part of some university societies and I regularly use the university library to study and borrow books. At the same time I get involved at Forth Valley College and as a result I became a STEM Ambassador last year and I will continue with this activity this year.

“The advantages of being an integrated degree student are far greater than the disadvantages. With motivation and involvement, students of the integrated degrees at the Forth Valley College can obtain the best of both worlds - the college and the university.

“We have the amazing laboratory facilities, great knowledgeable and supportive lecturers from whom we get a lot of attention thanks to the small class sizes and fantastic extracurricular facilities at the Forth Valley College. In contrast to this we can use the Stirling University sports facilities, become members of the wide range of societies and teams, attend lectures of the cell biology students and use other facilities such as the library, the study zones etc… just like any University of Stirling student.

The best bit for me is the fact I can be part of both the Forth Valley College and the Stirling University. This gives me the feeling of being welcome in both institutions. I try to benefit from both institutions and so I develop my sports skills at the University and I joined the societies to learn new skills as well as meet new people. In the Forth Valley College I attend the classes I really enjoy, I can get involved in biology related activities and thanks to college I have plenty of opportunities to begin developing my career in biology.”

For more information on integrated degrees at Forth Valley College contact 01324 403000.

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