Kim Hamilton is a graduate of our HND Biomedical Science programme at Greenock, who despite leaving school aged 15, never lost her interest in science or the desire to continue her studies.
Kim first came to our Greenock Campus in 2008, when although working full-time in a good job, she was driven to study Higher Human Biology and Psychology at evening class.
“I was always interested in Science, and always hoped I could get back into it. The chance to study Higher Biology and Psychology in the evenings, 6 years after leaving school was a great opportunity.”
However it wasn’t until January 2013 that Kimberly had the chance to really make the change she wanted.
“In January 2013 myself and colleagues found out we were being made redundant. This could have been a difficult time, but I knew exactly what I wanted to do. My redundancy package was enough to support me while studying - I finally had the chance to dedicate myself to building a career in science. I straight away applied for the HNC Biomedical Science course.”
Although Kim had a long break in her studies, her enthusiasm impressed the lecturers who were keen to take her straight onto the HNC course.
“With another four-year gap in my studies I was surprised to be accepted straight onto the HNC course; I’d already spent so long out of education, I was so happy to start working towards a degree straightaway. It wasn’t easy, but the lecturers were so supportive, that despite the gaps in my education, they saw my enthusiasm and gave me a chance. I made sure they didn’t regret it, and I really dedicated myself – this was an opportunity I didn’t want to miss.
“The course was brilliant. At times it was difficult, there was plenty of work and lots to learn. I had never studied this much or at this level; I had to retrain myself in how to write essays, do calculations, and perform experiments that were totally new to me. The teaching standards at the College are so high – the principles and lab discipline is even stricter than at University, so the College gave me an excellent grounding. “
Kim was enthusiastic about her course and really went the extra mile to make the most of her time at the College. In summer 2014 Kim worked in a University Research Lab as part of a Nuffield placement scheme; in summer 2015 Kim worked alongside NASA as part of Mission Discovery, a programme to encourage people to develop an interest in Science; and in her second year Kim was a Student Experience Representative for her fellow students.
Dedicated to sharing her enthusiasm for science, Kim also volunteered with the College’s programme delivering science classes in local schools, and volunteers in evenings with organisations such as the Girls’ Brigade. Kim also achieved a CREST gold award from the British Science Association, and gained additional qualifications in Safety in Microbiology and more to enhance her skills.
“The College created so many opportunities for me, for experiences that I never thought I’d have. I never thought I’d be working in professional research labs so soon, never mind meeting an astronaut!"
"These experiences, the knowledge and skills I’ve learned, and the principles that the College taught me are only going to lead to more great experiences in the future.”
Kim’s success has not gone without recognition. At our 2015 Graduation ceremonies Kim was prize winner for her HND course, and awarded the College prize for ‘Student of the Year’. At the 2015 College Development Network Awards, Kim was awarded the prize for ‘Student Contribution of the Year’, the only prize awarded to a student, in recognition of her passion for bringing people into science.
Speaking at her Graduation Kim said: “At first I was shocked; it was very humbling. Even to be nominated was really kind. The lecturers go above and beyond for you at West College Scotland, and you just don’t get that anywhere else. They’ve been an inspiration to me.”
Kim is now in 3rd year of a BSc in Biochemistry and Microbiology at Strathclyde University, and hopes to go onto work as a Research Scientist.
“I so loved my time at West College Scotland, I still miss my lecturers and the great environment they created. I almost wish I didn’t have to move on, but that’s why I came to the College; it was such a great experience, and it’s already helped so much.”