Medicine graduate who taught herself A-level science urges other students to pursue dreams
20 July 2022
A Cardiff University graduate has urged others to follow their dreams after she took an unconventional route into Medicine.
Sophie Hulse, 29, from Fairwater in Cardiff, graduates today with a degree in Medicine.
She dreamed of studying to be a doctor and helping to make a difference to others’ lives – but never had any exposure or access to the worlds of science or medicine. However, this didn’t stop Sophie who researched other routes into Medicine, such as graduate entry schemes.
“I came across the BSc Hons Medical Sciences at the University of South Wales which is one of four feeder courses for Medicine at Cardiff University,” she explains.
“The night I found the course I decided this would be my goal and dedicated the next year to volunteering with St John and the Welsh Ambulance Service while teaching myself A-level Biology and preparing my application.
“After completing a foundation year at USW due to my lack of science background I enrolled fully on to Medical Sciences and graduated three years later in 2017 with a place to study at Cardiff Medical School.”
Sophie, who studied at Cardiff University from 2017-2022 and will graduate today with the Class of 2022, faced fresh challenges while studying.
“During my first few years of Medicine, finances were extremely tight. Fortunately, my now husband George was able to transfer his work from England to come back to Wales so he could help to support me financially, and I was able to continue with my degree,” she says.
“I had to work countless hours at my part-time jobs – in retail and in bars – and it could be hard to balance work with keeping on top of my studies. I was also extremely fortunate to receive a hardship grant one year from the University to put towards rent and living costs. During the pandemic I worked throughout the entire lockdown on the COVID-19 high dependency unit and in A&E, as well as working on testing and vaccines.
“Juggling all of this with quite bad imposter syndrome and anxieties around exams was always challenging. I’d never imagined getting through each stage so now to be graduating is so surreal.”
Sophie was also diagnosed with toxic multinodular goitre, a form of hyperthyroidism which causes fatigue and issues with swallowing. This diagnosis led to surgery which was carried out by her head of year Michael Stechman during the first few weeks of her final year.
“Despite all the challenges I’ve faced at medical school, I’ve had a very successful final year. I passed all my exams whilst continuing to work nights on the weekend at Asda. I also recently married my partner of eight years George who supported me right through my medical degree,” explains Sophie.
“I’m very fortunate to have accepted my first job as a doctor in south Wales where I’ll be working on stroke medicine, breast surgery and then in A&E. I’m very excited to get started and despite all the challenges and hardships, Medicine was definitely the right career choice for me, and graduate entry was the best pathway.”