My course challenged me as a scientist and pushed me to become better than before

Photo of Sara Gohar after graduation
Sara Gohar
A challenging and rewarding course
MBiolSci Biochemistry and Genetics
Sara chose to study Biochemistry and Genetics at Sheffield with the aim of returning to her home country of Egypt to embark on a career in clinical research. Sara feels that her course challenged her as a scientist and pushed her to become better than before.
Photo of Sara Gohar after graduation

What made you want to study your course?

Growing up in Egypt exposed me to the reality that our healthcare sector was falling behind. Even if you had the finances to go into private healthcare, there was still no resource availability to tackle complex diseases like cancer. Having experienced the passing of several family members as a result to that, among witnessing the suffering the general population undergoes due to that, I decided to travel abroad and gain experience to change how things are. I have always been passionate about biology and clinical research in specific has always been an enticing area for me. I chose to do Biochemistry and Genetics because I believed it would give me the required set of skills that will make me a pioneer in clinical research in Egypt. Now that I have graduated, I can confidently say it has been rewarding and I can finally take steps towards making a change in Egypt.

What made you decide to study at the University of Sheffield?

During my last few years at school, many individuals from my school travelled to go study at the University of Sheffield. This gave me an advantage, as I got live updates about the university and life as a student there, which assisted me in my decision. My department specifically, the School of Biosciences, happened to be one of the best for molecular biology and clinical research in the country, which was a selling point for me. In addition, Sheffield had the best students' union in the UK for years running. I felt like my application process went very smoothly and I felt right about it. Once I got my scholarship letter, I just knew that Sheffield was happening for me. I have always felt like the University of Sheffield chose me and not the other way around. Until this day, coming to Sheffield has been the best decision I have ever made, and it will remain to be the place where I have found myself. I cannot stress enough how rewarding and amazing the environment is and I will continue to remember that for the rest of my life.

What have you enjoyed most about your course so far?

Being the person I am, I love a challenge and that was my favourite aspect of my course. Coming to Sheffield, I had a very basic background in molecular biology, research, and scientific writing. During the course of my four years, I have grown and developed into an individual my past self would be very proud of. Every year on my course has challenged me as a scientist and pushed me to become better than before. The variety of module options and having the ability to choose what I want to learn about, which was one of my favourite things. Exploring different areas of focus was eye-opening and has assisted me in strengthening my scientific understanding of areas such as cancer, fertility and reproduction, protein biochemistry, and genetics and epigenomics. Overall, I enjoyed that I had the opportunity to cover a variety of areas in such a short time, while receiving guidance on how this would assist me in figuring out what I would like to do in the future.

What skills have you developed during your course?

I cannot stress enough how much the way I think has changed, as I have become more observant and analytical. I believe this is the most important skill I have developed, as it has assisted me with any research I was part of it. It has given me the ability to inspect and analyse scientific data, which is something that was completely foreign to me. In addition, I have learnt many laboratory transferrable skills and was trained to operate complex machinery such as a transmission electron microscope. I am able to write papers and reviews to publication standard, and I am confident in planning and executing experimental work more than I would have imagined. Being part of an active research environment has also allowed me to hone my interpersonal skills due to the nature of the work and the diverse individuals I have interacted with. I can confidently say my course covered everything I needed to learn from the simplest of things, like how to hold a pipette properly, to the most complex ones, like developing and troubleshooting my own assays. All that I have developed during this course will allow me to venture out into the world and work on a variety of projects.

What would you say to a student thinking about studying your course at Sheffield?

I would tell them to enter this course expecting that it will top their expectations. My department has undergone several changes since I have been a first year, and now there is an even larger variety of modules and things for students to now choose from in contrast to my time. The department is one of the safest and most welcoming environments on campus and it will definitely be a stepping stone for them in their career. This course is everything one would expect and even more, and I can say it has topped my expectations. It will be a decision you won't regret, but remember to always ask for help and explore the variety of options available for you during your time on this course in terms of what you could achieve.

What are you planning to do after your degree?

Currently, I have no set plan as my initial plan was to roll onto a PhD, but I was unable to secure funding. I will be taking a year or two out to work and gain more experience and hopefully then reapply for a PhD and funding. I am hoping to research the potential of mitochondrial-targeted therapeutics for cancer in the future.

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