Course: BSc (Honours) Applied Animal Science
Campus: SRUC Edinburgh
Jillian's journey with SRUC began after a tough time in her final year at high school, where she became ill and had to drop out of three of her five Highers.
"When I left high school with only two Highers, I thought I’d never be able to do anything with them, as I only got Cs. I come from a really educated family, so I was really disappointed to think my higher education was over before it began. My family was always behind me saying, “Get into education”, and so I started at SRUC."
Jillian enrolled for one year at SRUC, to do her HNC Bioscience. She went on to complete an HND in Applied Bioscience. By third year Jillian progressed to study for a degree in Applied Animal Science, then finally undertook her Honours year.
"On the first day of my HNC, it was Donald Mitchell, recently retired from SRUC, who said: “Everybody here today has the potential to stay on for four years, and I hope you all do”. That was my first time I thought I could actually do a degree."
Jillian’s experience as a fresher was a very positive one. Although the only HNC student in her Applied Animal Science classes, she was always made to feel equal to her HND and Degree classmates.
"We were all in it together - it started off as a ‘family’ and it ended, years later, as the same family. There was such a supportive ethos. If you failed a test- it was just ‘your success has been postponed’. It was always really positive and the lecturers were great."
Jillian and her classmates formed close bonds, including with their fourth year advisor, Tom McEvoy.
"He’s fantastic, he became sort of like our family - I was crying with him, I was laughing with him; I even met his wife at the Royal Highland Show (a group from our class sat with Tom at his stand and stole his coffee and food). By the time we graduated everyone was just devastated that we weren’t going to have Tom anymore for our life decisions- though we all still keep in touch with him!"
Jillian’s plans for the future, all going well, include undertaking a PhD in animal welfare and behaviour, focussed on livestock, following on from her Honours work in pig aggression. She is currently undertaking her Masters.
"Everyone really encouraged me to go on and do a Masters, I went to the conferences and events when I was a student, and got talking to the Masters people. I was then accepted onto a Masters course. I’m now doing an online part-time Masters with the University of Edinburgh, in International Animal Welfare Ethics and Law."