Passionate Geneticist, Benedict, Looks to Study Medicine

Benedict of Winder House has a long-standing interest in genetics and he followed this passion to complete his Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) on gene editing in year 12. He is now building the work experience and broader skills and knowledge needed to apply to study medicine. Benedict, who joined Sedbergh in year 10, has his sights firmly set on obtaining a medical place at a top medical school in the UK.

What subjects are you studying at A-Level?

I’m studying biology, chemistry and physics – it’s tough to say which is my favourite. At the start [of year 12] it was biology but now I couldn’t pick between biology and chemistry. I love looking at the cellular level – the interactions between cells – which underpin how major organisms work and function. Ever since I can remember I’ve been a massive fan of the sciences.

What is your dream for university?

My dream is to study medicine at Oxford but I’m conflicted because I am quite interested in microbiology and gene editing! However, they can overlap. At Easter I did work experience in Kendal Hospital and I spoke to a thoracic specialist there and he recommended that I do medicine and then I can shift into microbiology if I want to. Its much harder to go the other way, from microbiology to medicine. Oxford is at the top of my list because I like having competition in my learning. It’s definitely a university that will give me the opportunity to fight for my spot and then compete against my classmates at an intellectual level. I like problem based learning [an approach to teaching medicine] and so I’ve been looking at Lancaster University as well. Edinburgh and UCL [University College London] are also universities that I’m looking at applying to. For my fifth choice I’m thinking about biochemistry at Durham. When I’m considering universities the style of teaching and the location are things I’m looking at.

How is Sedbergh helping you to achieve your ambition?

The Oxbridge co-ordinator, Miss Bell, has sent me messages with tonnes of extra-curricular reading and information that I can get on with to help me. All of the teachers give really great advice, but Miss Rowland [Head of Year] and Dr McMeechan who supports medical applicants [at the School] have been especially helpful.

I think Sedbergh is great at providing more opportunities such as early morning maths and Dr Worgan set up extra chemistry sessions which is great. I quite enjoy the Sedbergh Certificates as well; they offer points for going out and doing your own research. I came top three for points last year and this year I’m already on a gold certificate.

I also participate in [the School’s] academic societies. After I finished my EPQ Dr McMeechan asked me to present to the Burke and Hare [biology] society and I really enjoyed it. So, I also prepared a talk for the School of Athens [general academic interest]. I might be doing an Invisible College [physics society] presentation too.

Getting into medicine does require a lot of extra preparation – what other things are you doing?

I’ve done some work experience [Kendal Hospital] and I’m doing a massive amount of reading; I’ve currently got about 10 books on medicine on my bookshelf at school and another 20-30 at home that I’m plugging through. I’ve done first aid courses to learn a bit more and when I can, I’m attending a lot of online seminars. In the School holidays I try to attend face-to-face, taught courses too.

Have you started your medical entry preparation?

I have. I’ll have to take both the UCAT and BMAT medical exams. I started practising and revising as soon as I finished my GCSEs and I’ve been doing a little bit every week. I prefer the style of questions on the BMAT, a bit more science-based.

When did you decide you wanted to study medicine?

It started when I was four years old – I want to be a vet. I was with my family in Qatar and I found a stray kitten that had a defect. Since then I was really interested in veterinary medicine. I was interested in that for a long time – until about year eight and year 9 when I started looking down the route of human medicine and I decided I was more suited for that.

How do you stay relaxed and happy during exam time?

To the best of my ability I try and keep to the schedule that I have for the rest of the year. So, it’s almost like nothing is out of place. Do revision obviously, but do a comfortable amount and then put the revision down and do something else that excites you; whether its football with friends or gaming. Nothing has to change because its exam season. Stay level-headed and don’t over-think it; that’s how I approach it.

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