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A home from home: Meet Hannah Simpson

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24 April 2020

Students come from across the globe to Harper Adams, seeking a degree that will teach them essential skills for a career path that matters to the world. Whether they work to feed the nation, innovate the latest technology, or seek to understand the intricacies of the environment, there is much to be gained from degrees that matter.

While our ability to travel is now restricted, our international students’ stories remain inspirational. Hannah Simpson is a second year BSc (Hons) Veterinary Physiotherapy student who traveled over 6,000 miles from home for the degree pathway she knew was right for her. 

She shared that no distance would stop her from achieving her dreams and her vibrant passion for her subject shines through. Hannah commented: “I am originally from Durban, South Africa and I moved to the UK to study veterinary physiotherapy. I’ve traded the sun and beach for grey clouds and rain but it has all been worth it - even though I’ve lost my tan in the process!”

Hannah explained why she wanted to move so far from home for her desired degree course, saying: “I’ve always been a huge animal and nature lover. From a young age I’ve been exposed to so many different animals from having dogs at home to seeing wild animals at game reserves. I’ve also been involved with horses from the age of three. I officially started riding when I turned 6 and never looked back.

“I always knew I wanted to have a career involved with horses but was not sure which to pursue. I looked into going into veterinary, but I wasn’t entirely convinced it was the right path for me. It wasn’t until my horse needed physiotherapy that it finally clicked that this was the right career for me. I would have the ability to help animals in the best way possible.”

Having discovered her passion, Hannah’s next decision was to find the right institution for her. At the time of her search, there were no establishments offering an accredited degree in South Africa. Hannah explained: “I looked for months online to find the right course. After lots of research I found that Harper offered the degree I was looking for and it was accredited by the NAVP and AHPR. I applied without even seeing what the campus was like!

“The first time I physically saw Harper was for my interview day in January 2018. It definitely exceeded my expectations. I was so impressed with the facilities on campus - especially the vet services centre as it has a hydrotherapy pool and water treadmill. I really liked how facilities were in close proximity to each other making it easy to get around campus and feel like you are part of the community. I definitely wanted to be at Harper and nowhere else.”

Now in her second year, Hannah continues to be enthusiastic about her learning. She said: “The lecturers are absolutely amazing. The combined knowledge and skill that they all have makes for such an interesting learning environment. They are all so passionate about what they teach which definitely makes lectures more interesting and memorable. They are always so willing to help when you’re stuck or something doesn’t make sense.

“Along with this, lectures are made as interactive as possible which has helped to enhance my learning. Being able to access the onsite dairy, pig and poultry units has been really interesting, especially coming from a city where there is not a farm animal in sight. Practical sessions have also been really useful and informative. Second year has been brilliant in terms of learning about anatomy as over the year we have completed dissections which enable us to put our learning content into practice and to physically see what’s going on through physiotherapy.”

Looking forward, Hannah is excited for what the rest of the degree pathway will offer to her. She shared: “I am very lucky to have secured two incredible placements at Watkins and Tasker Vets and Cloudstrider Equestrian. I will primarily be in the physio and rehab unit at Watkins and Tasker, but also be given the opportunity to observe a few surgeries and listen in on some consultations. Excitingly, Cloudstrider is run by Olympic eventer Alex Hau Tian so it will be such an incredible experience to see how a stable yard runs at Olympic level.

“Once I graduate, I hope to complete an osteopathy course as well as a saddle fitting course as I feel it will be so beneficial in the line of work I will be in. I do primarily want to work with horses as they have been my lifelong passion but I won’t turn any valuable opportunities down with the canine area of the career. I want to be able to travel with my work to places such as Dubai, Australia and America and potentially work within the horse racing industry. I have a passion for competing especially in show jumping so I hope to work with clients and horses at this level. I hope to own my own horse again and get back into competing as I miss it!”

Hannah’s ambition is clear to see as she is taking every opportunity to widen her skill set and achieve as much as possible with Harper Adams. With that in mind, we asked Hannah what her advice would be to other international students looking to join us: “Come with an open mind and take every opportunity that comes your way.

“I have made some lifelong friends at Harper and had the most memorable experiences. With home being over 6000 miles away, I was a little apprehensive at first but I settled in so quickly and can definitely call Harper my home from home.”

If you are interested in what a degree in veterinary physiotherapy could help you achieve, you can read more on our course page here. To speak to other students about their university experience, you can speak to a student below.

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