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News > Alumni Stories > Class of 2019 Anna's TGS to now

Class of 2019 Anna's TGS to now



Anna Heritage class of 2019 - from TGS to now

Hello! My name is Anna Heritage, and I was a student in the class of 2019 at Tonbridge Grammar School. I attended the school from years 7-11 and then stayed on for the Sixth Form as I couldn’t imagine a better place to continue my education. I have had an interest in animals since I can remember and began considering careers at quite a young age. TGS inspired me to study the subjects to achieve my goals, as well as those that suited my strengths. Like any teenage girl, I sometimes had doubts about my abilities, but the staff at TGS truly supported me and encouraged me to attain the grades I needed and the place at a university that I had hoped for. In particular, Mr McDaid supported me through my last-minute application to vet school as although I had taken the relevant subjects and gained the correct work experience, I’d had a crisis in confidence and decided not to apply – until the night before!

I got invited to interview and was very quickly offered a place at the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science at The University of Nottingham in the first ever April Cohort beginning in 2020. Thanks to the support given at TGS, I really enjoyed my interview and felt completely prepared. As a result, I used the interview as an opportunity to get to know the staff and students at the vet school and was thrilled to receive an offer soon after.

I started my first year at university with the content being delivered online and spent the first 4 months in my bedroom at home. Although it wasn’t the start to university that I was looking forward to, I still learned a lot, made new friends, and got to know the lecturers and other staff. We were then invited to move onto campus in July 2020 to be the guinea pigs for the return of students to university across the country. It was a strange but fun experience, living with 10 new people but not being able to go out at all. Lectures were still delivered online but practical teaching with huge amounts of PPE began. Once restrictions were relaxed, we started teaching as normal and I enjoyed every second of the first two years. It was fascinating to notice that there were some skills I had as a TGS girl, that other students hadn’t yet encountered. This included reflection skills needed for our annual portfolio that I had developed throughout my time at TGS, particularly during the CAS component of the IB. My scientific writing skills were also more advanced thanks to the preparation provided by the internal assessments in all subjects of the IB. Most significantly, I have often had feedback valuing my enthusiasm for my subject and highlighting my confidence in teaching other students and communicating with staff members or clients. All of these skills were introduced during my time at TGS and I am so grateful to have been in a learning environment where this was actively encouraged.

In third year, I completed a 6-week research project about methods of teaching vet students. It was super interesting to see research promoting the types of teaching that I had already experienced at TGS. Having had no interest in pursuing research beforehand, this short project changed my view on research, and I soon applied for funding to start an inter-calculated Master of Research between my third and fourth years. At the end of the year, I graduated the first half of vet school with a Bachelor of Veterinary Medical Sciences with Honours and got accepted to start a Masters. My topic was looking at human behaviour change to improve the welfare of horses acquiring wounds. I aimed to design an educational resource in conjunction with The British Horse society for horse owners to improve equine wound management in the UK. I have used many skills obtained through my time studying psychology higher for the IB as I wanted to create an evidence-based, effective resource by identifying and removing the barriers that may prevent horse owners from engaging with such resources. My research has consisted of many surveys and focus groups and I particularly enjoy meeting and talking to people about the project. As a postgraduate I have also had the opportunity to teach vet students and animal science students in years 1-3 during animal handling and surgical instrument handling practical lessons. This is something I really enjoy, and I recognise the preparation that sports science at GCSE and CAS in the IB contributed to my teaching skills.

I enjoyed my first 6 months so much that I decided I wanted to take the research further by applying for funding for a 3-year PhD instead of submitting my thesis as a Masters. Although the funding initially wasn’t available, my supervisor highlighted the importance of early career researchers and wanted to continue supporting me and working with me due to my enthusiasm and commitment to the topic. The decision was made to release extra funding for my PhD to go ahead.

In January this year I passed my first year VIVA and have successfully been registered into the second year of my PhD. I have a fantastic professional relationship with the wider equine research group as well as my supervisors and The British Horse Society. I genuinely love the work that I do and look forward to the rest of my PhD and the release of the educational campaign.

Outside of research and education, I have two horses with me at university, one of which I compete British Dressage (we won two of our classes in summer last year), and I also live with my dog in a van in the countryside. Despite being a little unconventional, being able to live in the countryside and spend time with my animals has helped me to stay happy and enthusiastic about every aspect of my life. I also have a fantastic group of friends and a wonderful family that I see and speak to all the time!

Following my PhD, I plan to complete years 4 and 5 of vet school to become a fully qualified veterinarian. I then hope to combine teaching, research, and clinical veterinary work throughout my career as I can’t imagine only settling for one of these areas – I love them all! I will always be grateful to Tonbridge Grammar School, my peers, teachers and all the other staff for both my early experiences in education, and for helping to shape the person I am today both academically and socially.

I can’t wait to update you all on my future endeavours,


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