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“I realised not all was lost”

“Even when things go wrong, there are always options,” says 27-year-old OU graduate Katharine Boulton. Despite not getting the university grades she hoped she would, she didn’t let this stop her and combined her industry experience with an OU Masters in Medicinal Chemistry.

“I initially went to university to study forensic science,” Katharine explains. “I absolutely adored the CSI programmes and everything around forensics. I was adamant I wanted to pursue a masters in forensic genetics, but when I completed my degree I received a 2.2, falling short of the 2.1 required to get onto the course.”

‘I felt lost’

“I wasn’t sure where to begin,” says Katharine. “I felt lost.”

Despite her initial disappointment, Katharine decided to get stuck into the world of work following her degree, finding her way into the pharmaceutical industry.

“I was introduced to this new industry and found I needed to get up to speed with it pretty quickly. I initially wondered about going back to university full time to complete my masters, however, I know industry experience is invaluable.”

Taking on a new challenge

When deciding her next step, Katharine found inspiration from her parents – Mike, an OU Nursing graduate, and Debra, who first studied with the OU in the 1990s and has recently returned to study Physics.

 “I was familiar with the concept and pleased to get a place on the MSc in Medicinal Chemistry course, while continuing to work. The next four years were what I can only describe as pain, suffering and relief!”

“Getting my masters made me feel like I was on top of the world. All the hard work I had been putting on myself for the past four years just disappeared and made me realise I could do anything.”

Katharine completed her masters with the OU this summer and has been able to move into the more scientific departments of her workplace, where she is now a project scientist.

“The OU has helped my life by giving me the confidence in an industry I had previously no idea about. It has allowed me to grow and develop and I can’t wait for my next challenge!”

Help is there when you need it

“I want people to know that even though you go to a traditional university, sometimes it doesn’t all work out how you planned. Even though I was still young, the OU treated me with respect and were there when I needed them. I realised not all was lost.”

Byline: Carly Sumner

Photograph of Carly Sumner
Carly Sumner, Digital Content Officer, The Open University.

Carly Sumner is a Digital Content Officer in the Development Office at The Open University. She loves telling stories and has spent the past 10 years writing about everything from nappy bags to balance transfers. She holds a BA (Hons) in Journalism and Media Studies from Coventry University. When she’s not writing, Carly enjoys reading, sharing good food with great people, and all things colourful.

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