Hannah Knaggs

Student blog

From Texas, USA to Hartpury, Gloucestershire

Hannah Knaggs

Hannah Knaggs is an international graduate from Texas USA. After five years at Hartpury – during which time she studied Access to HE and MSci Equine Science, and helped shape the student experience as Students’ Union President – she’s here to share her tips and insights.

Hannah’s Hartpury journey

Hi, I’m Hannah. I knew I wanted to study equine science as soon as I found out I could!

I chose Hartpury without stepping foot on campus, I hadn’t even been to the UK until I arrived on campus for the induction day. The choice was easy for me as Hartpury had everything I could ever dream of, from the facilities to the class sizes.

The fact that Hartpury is on the smaller side gave me confidence that I wouldn’t be a number to the lecturers. I knew that I’d get a world-class education alongside practical experience.

I started on the Access to HE diploma. The equine modules were taught by a university lecturer and I owe a lot to her when it comes to my success in my degree. From the start, she told us that she was going to expect us to work hard and that she would do her best for us. I think that setting those expectations pushed me to do my absolute best.

When I started, the MSci Equine Science was my ultimate goal. I originally wanted to put focus on nutrition, but as my modules progressed, I found a passion for exercise physiology and biomechanics.

I really enjoyed doing both of my dissertations. They made me fall in love with academia and research, and have prepared me for a career and hopefully a PhD in the near future!

How to succeed in your studies

I found that if you reach out to staff and take all the opportunities you can, you will get more out of Hartpury than you could ever image possible.

That’s my best tip for coming to Hartpury – you get out of it what you put in. In terms of your course, get to know your lecturers and be as open and honest as you can. They’ll do everything in their power to help you and they genuinely want to see you succeed.

Thoughts from an international student

As an international student, I had fantastic support from my initial application through to graduation and beyond! The international manager is an absolute super star and is always there to answer questions or just lend a listening ear.

I lived on site and I think that is part of what made it so easy to settle in at Hartpury. My year group was very tight-knit and we had a ton of fun.

The clubs and societies helped me to meet people, branch out and try new things. I discovered a new side to myself—an independence and free spirit I hadn’t felt before.

I wholeheartedly believe that deciding to study abroad was the best choice I could have made for myself personally, academically, and professionally. While it has been hard being away from family, I have built a little family for myself here… and I FaceTime my mum constantly (sorry mum)!

My top tips for international students:

  • Attend international events: Meeting people who are going through the same transition as you makes a world of a difference.
  • Embrace the culture shock: You may get a little homesick, but remember it’s totally normal. Try to learn about the culture and immerse yourself in it as much as you can.
  • Travel: Take this opportunity to explore as much as you can. I wish I had done more travelling during my studies.

Being part of the Students’ Union

I decided to run for Student’s Union president at the end of my Access to HE diploma, meaning I was in office for my first year of university which was a bit of an odd experience.

I was lucky enough to be re-elected for another year, so I was in office from 2017-2019.

Before this role, I was horribly shy and couldn’t stand public speaking, but through the provided training at Hartpury, I made a complete 360 and now love it. This has helped me with my presentation skills on my course and I’m now comfortable lecturing.

I got a first-hand look into the professional side of Hartpury, all of the behind-the-scenes work that shapes the institution, and this is one of the key components of my CV that employers have asked about.

I had many conversations with my programme manager about my balancing my studies with work, and she was always the first to call me out if something tipped the scales. That kind of individual support and accountability was one of the biggest reasons I chose Hartpury.

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