Sarah McBride could have studied Agriculture at home in Northern Ireland, but once her eyes were opened to Harper Adams, she knew it would give her the best career prospects
Sarah grew up on a sheep and beef farm in Ballymena, County Antrim. She initially selected her A-Levels with a view to pursuing Veterinary Medicine, but after starting a BTEC in Agriculture, Sarah discovered that she loved farming more.
“I picked up the BTEC when I dropped an AS-Level…I enjoyed it more than my other courses and I realised that agriculture is what I wanted to do, and decided to pursue it instead, says the BSc (Hons) Agriculture with Animal Science student.
Sarah first heard about Harper Adams from a visitor to her school.
“I went home and researched Harper Adams…and in the past year my internet search history has been Harper this, and Harper that, because all the courses sounded so great and I loved the sound of everything.
“There were similar courses offered at institutions in Northern Ireland, but when I contacted them no one could give me a straight answer as to what their courses would qualify me for, and I had heard stories about people who struggled to find employment after it.
“Harper Adams was the complete opposite. The course qualifies you for so much, the graduate employment statistics are phenomenal and its reputation within industry is second to none.”
After just one term at Harper Adams, Sarah is already certain her course is everything she wanted and expected it to be.
“The tutors make everything interesting and I’m particularly enjoying the Animal Production and Bio-Science for Agriculture modules. Both are really interesting and combine the two subjects I enjoy the most.
“You only have to cross the road from halls and you’re on the university’s farm, making it really accessible. Seeing the tractors coming past my accommodation window really helped the university feel like home for me.”
Everyone gets nervous before starting university and Sarah was no exception, but she found that she had settled in within the first week.
“I was surprised how quickly I made such good friends, and how easy it was to navigate around the campus and surrounding area,” says the Randalstown Young Farmers Club member.
“The university’s online introductions took away some of the stress of not knowing what to do because they told you what you needed to know, even the things you would not have necessarily thought about.”
Being a part of the Harper Ireland student society, which brings together students from throughout the Island of Ireland, has also helped Sarah during her first term in Shropshire.
“Going to the Harper Ireland meetings and having the familiarity of the accent and having people know where you’re from, silly wee things I know, but in the first couple of weeks of being here it was comforting,” says Sarah, who plays rugby for Ulster.
Sarah might have only just started her studies, but she already has her sights firmly set on becoming an animal nutritionist for a leading company, but no matter what her future career holds, she always plans to do something in farming.