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Featured student of the month - Karen Akehurst

Posted 5 September 2011

“It’s key to get involved as much as possible at Harper Adams, have no regrets because you don’t want to look back and wish you’d done things differently.

Karen Akehurst during her placement year

Final year student, Karen Akehurst, is preparing to graduate from her BSc (Hons) Adventure Recreation course later this month. Here she takes a few moments to reflect on her time at Harper Adams and her impressive placement year in Canada.

“Outdoor education has been my focus for the past six years, but before coming to Harper Adams, I spent some time working with young people with disabilities at an outdoor centre during the holiday periods.

“I also completed a college diploma in outdoor education so applying for Harper seemed to be the correct route for academic progression.

“Once you’re here, it feels like home, as you live in a close-knit community. Plus being in Shropshire, it’s a great location close to Wales so I’ve been able to pursue my love for mountains and the outdoors.”

23-year-old Karen spent her placement year working in Haliburton, Ontario, for the Haliburton Forest and Wildlife Reserve – a 75,000acre privately run forest in the highlands.

She added: “I spent six months working and training sled dogs, as well as helping to tone, exercise and socialise young puppies.

“I was part of a team that cared for the dogs’ day-to-day care, and was able to get to know the individual characteristics of 150 Siberian Huskies.

“The rest of my placement at Haliburton was spent at the Out Camp – running sessions such as high ropes, rock climbing and raft building. I also helped at the Wolf Centre which is the first of its kind in Ontario, where a semi-captive wolf pack roam a 14acre enclosure.

“This all helped me to develop my teaching style and own personal skills such as canoeing and rock climbing, and also improved my confidence and self-esteem.”

Karen, from Bletchley, Milton Keynes, worked as a student ambassador during her four years at the University College, helping out during school visits and events.

She added: “Working as an ambassador and being able to show prospective students around whilst talking about all the experiences I have had has been a highlight in its own right.

“Plus the Student Union works extremely hard to put on entertainment such as comedy nights, balls and paint parties which have all added to the positive experience that I’ve had here.

“It’s key to get involved as much as possible at Harper Adams, have no regrets because you don’t want to look back and wish you’d done things differently.”

Karen is now looking forward to graduating on September 23, and then hopes to return to Canada to work with huskies.

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