Tina Curwen studied MBChB Medicine at ARU, and was among our first cohort of medical students to graduate in 2023. She reflects on her university journey.
Before arriving at ARU, I completed a Forensic Science degree and trained as a teacher. After a few years of dealing with rowdy classrooms and endless lesson plans, I decided it was time for a change and another challenge. And what’s more peaceful and stress-free than a career in medicine?
My journey with ARU started with a phone call from the admissions team offering me a space on the Medicine course, after being rejected from my four other options. That call changed everything, and I couldn’t believe I had been offered a place. The feeling of excitement mixed with imposter syndrome is unforgettable, and still gives me goosebumps. It was even more special that I’ve been part of the first cohort at the School of Medicine.
My journey has been filled with laughter, tears, long nights studying, and enough coffee to fuel an army with many challenges along the way, but it’s made my experience more of an adventure and has been made easier by the support I’ve been able to access from ARU.
As this was my second degree, I wasn’t eligible for the usual student finance which posed a huge challenge and meant I was working alongside a very demanding course. Thankfully, some of this pressure was relieved by being awarded an ARU bursary in my first year, and access to a hardship fund when times were particularly tough in my third year, without which, would have made it difficult for me to complete the course as well as keep up with my volunteering commitments with the Students' Union and as a special constable with Essex Police.
I also had the opportunity to volunteer in India which would not have been a possibility had it not been subsidised by ARU. This trip pushed me out of my comfort zone; I faced new challenges and learnt more about myself and the world. I came away with a deeper understanding of what is truly important in life, and I was reminded of the power of kindness, compassion, and courage. I am grateful that these trips are accessible to all students and I was very lucky to have been given the opportunity; an opportunity that wouldn’t have been possible without the support of ARU, and its alumni.
Reflecting on the past five years, I realise just how much I’ve been able to achieve. Setting up the Pets as Therapy wellbeing visits, taking part in research projects, founding two Students' Union societies, and organising collections for the homeless fill me with a sense of pride and accomplishment.
I could never have imagined that the phone call five years ago would lead to such a fulfilling academic journey. It’s been a long and challenging road, but I’m grateful for the opportunities that have come my way and I can’t wait to see where this new adventure takes me. ARU has really developed me, and I thank the University for taking a chance on me and allowing me these amazing opportunities.
To everyone who has been there along the way, my family and friends, my mentors, lecturers, and all the staff and alumni at ARU who have been part of my journey and helped me succeed, I want to say thank you all for your support, and cheers to the next chapter!