Posted 6 August 2019
“I first came to Harper in 2016 as part of a visit for farmers and those associated with the industry from Zambia. I saw that the university could offer me exactly what I wanted moving forward and it’s in a great location."
Sheila Zulu is studying MSc Agricultural Sciences and Production Systems at Harper Adams University, thanks to a Marshal Papworth Fund scholarship.
The Zambian student had already known about the university and the scholarship, thanks to working as an agronomist for AGCO, so when she came to realise that she wanted to improve her knowledge of farming systems, she decided to apply for the competitive scholarship, offered by the Marshal Papworth Fund, to study her master's degree at the University.
Sheila said: “Being an agronomist and coming to Harper has been a 15-year-long journey. It took me some time to realise that I was enjoying the subject I was studying at agricultural college and that I wanted to build a career in the industry. In the past I’ve worked in the seed industry and agricultural insurance, however, I enjoy being hands-on, planting and growing crops.
“I first came to Harper in 2016 as part of a visit for farmers and those associated with the industry from Zambia. I saw that the university could offer me exactly what I wanted moving forward and it’s in a great location.
“I’ve been really busy since joining, but it has been very interesting; a steep learning curve.
“I’m doing my thesis research project on finding alternative methods to using fungicides and pesticides by using bio stimulants. This is an important area of research in the UK at the moment because the number of chemicals that can be used to tackle pest problems has been declining as legislation is altered. For my project, I'm focusing on Septoria disease in winter wheat.
“The academics stand out at Harper; they constantly keep one leg in industry so that they are up-to-date with the latest developments.
“The staff are also very dedicated and committed to their students. The support from the tutors and staff stands out; I could be meeting with my supervisor and she requests that we walk to the field together where my trial is based so she can see the progress for herself.”
On how she felt when she first moved away from Zambia to come and study in the UK last autumn, Sheila said: “I settled into Harper quite easily; even the winter wasn’t as cold as I was anticipating! My British housemates also helped me to feel at home. With Harper, you belong to a family; you’re not just a student. Even when you leave here, Harper is still a part of you.
“There are many opportunities available in my sector, and so I look forward to finding where I can fit in and help make an impact.
“I’ve benefitted from the generosity of others through the Marshal Papworth Scholarship and so I want my new knowledge to continue helping other people.”