Not only are our students challenged through their degree knowledge and academic interests, they are also given the opportunity to learn personal skills, seeing them flourish as individuals. Hannah Whitaker has taken this in her stride, finding that experience in public speaking has made her confidence in herself grow.
The first year BSc (Hons) Agri-business student was challenged in her personal development module to speak to her cohort about an experience that helped her uncover new skills. Although nervous, Hannah saw this as an opportunity, saying: “Public speaking has always been something I’ve found hard, particularly hiding my nerves.
“However, I feel talking about something you are passionate about and have genuine interest in really helps. You can see the difference when you enjoy your subject - it definitely shows. No matter your form of presentation, focusing on why you enjoy the subject or experience and thinking about your body language really helps to ground you as you talk.”
Hannah recounted a life changing experience for her presentation, speaking about her three week trip to Madagascar. She commented: “The trip was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had.
“One of the main aims of the trip was to volunteer. We did this at two different locations: a school and a mangrove conservation. We spent a week at the school helping to build a new IT block and a clear ground for a new playground. This aspect of the trip was one of the hardest but also most rewarding; you got to know some of the children and teachers, and this was a massive eye-opener to how they live and how lucky we really are.
“Our second location for volunteering was at a Mangrove Conservation. We helped to clear areas and to set up a big ceremony that was taking place for all the locals nearby.
“Although a large part of our trip was volunteering, we also got to experience every aspect of life out there. We went hiking within the rainforests, visiting lemur parks, snorkeling in the coral reefs and enjoyed whale watching, which were all some of the most incredible experiences I have had!”
Flying across the world to see such sights is an exciting prospect, but Hannah used her time to help others. She explained why she felt compelled to volunteer: “It was something new and an experience I may never have again!
“Planning the trip ourselves as part of the World Challenge Organisation and having to organise every aspect when in the country was difficult. But it also meant we all grew into such a strong and close group of people and I couldn’t have loved the experience more! Having no contact with anyone at home - although initially hard - was also a nice part of the experience, particularly being shut off from all social media.”
Talking about an experience that made Hannah value the little things she had back home made her feel sure of herself when delivering her speech to her peers. Having achieved this, she is confident to deliver talks in front of larger audiences again in the future.
Undertaking Agri-business, Hannah chose the course for it’s practical focus. She said: “I wanted to focus on agriculture rather than just business alone, so this duel focused course ticked all of the boxes for me. I just loved Harper when I came to look around so I knew I didn’t want to go anywhere else! Truly, the whole experience has exceeded all of my expectations and I couldn’t be happier. Embracing everything about uni life and doing new things has definitely made it one of the best decisions I’ve ever made!
“Harper has been a great decision for me - not only for the course, but also the uni life! If you're looking to come to Harper I would highly advise getting involved in as much as you can; try new things, join a club or society and just talk to people! I have met some of the most amazing people and had some fantastic experiences this past year.”
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