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Steve Backshall's story

BAFTA-winning Steve Backshall is now  a proud CCCU alumni. The English naturalist, explorer, writer, and television presenter shares why he is so grateful to be a part of CCCU's community. 

I struggled for the best part of twelve years at another university to get myself from a student with poor GCSEs in maths and science to someone with a solid BSc grounding in both these things.

It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. This included failing the second year of my biology degree, which (whilst studying alongside a demanding full-time job) was absolutely crushing.

But joining Canterbury Christ Church University has been transformational. The guidance I’ve received has been second to none, and the assistance I’ve had with my research has genuinely changed my life.

Ongoing support and guidance from wonderful staff

As someone who makes a living communicating science, I have always felt great guilt at my lack of proper science credentials. I had the knowledge of practical natural history and animal behaviour, but not the right letters after my name.

Aside from its reputation as a sterling institution, my reason for coming to CCCU was Carol Trim (Senior Lecturer in Biology) and her husband Steve (who runs Kent company Venomtech). Carol became my supervisor and helped me through all of the venom research, and taught me how to create a thesis worthy of the CCCU seal of approval.

Their support has been the highlight of my academic career. They held my hand through areas of the scientific process that I found challenging, making esoteric bioscience comprehensible, and bringing cutting edge tools and techniques to my research. I’ll never be able to repay them for all they’ve done for me.

Through Carol I’ve been introduced to so many lecturers and PhD students at CCCU, who have given me the confidence to continue when it seemed simply impossible. They have also confounded the most elementary expectations about science; that being cerebral alienates you from ’normal’ people. Their humility and willingness to share their knowledge is something special.

The proudest moment 

It’s difficult to understate what this means to me. I’m not a natural student. I still struggle with stats and chemistry. I’ve found the whole process so so hard, but because of that… to come out at the end with my MSc… it’s up there as one of the things I’m most proud of in my life.

I’m sure there are students out there (more than) half my age, who are considering studying at CCCU but nervous about failing. The fact that I defeated demons to get this MSc makes it a billion times sweeter than my first degree, and if I can do it, anyone can!

And alongside that, I’ve met some of the nicest people - that I admire beyond words - and found a new second home in Canterbury. What it means to me… everything.

What it means to me… everything.

Steve BackshallMSc in Bioscience

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