Staffs BioSciences Graduate Stories – Meet Zuzana Tothova

In the Biological & Biomedical Sciences department, we celebrate our graduate’s successes with them on graduation day but also as their journeys continue after they leave us. Once you become an alumnus of Staffs and the Biology department you remain a part of our ever-growing family and we take joy in hearing from our alumni throughout their journeys. We value them and their thoughts on their experiences with us at Staffordshire University.

As part of our new series of Staffs BioSciences Graduate Stories, we’re pleased to introduce Zuzana who graduated from our Applied Biomedical Science BSc Hons course in 2013. Find out how Zuzana is getting on with her journey as she shares a little about herself and her experiences with us.

Tell us a little about what you have been doing since graduation?

I’ve been working in the Immunology laboratory at UHNM (University Hospitals of North Midlands) since graduation. At the moment, I’m finishing my Institute of Biomedical Science Specialist Portfolio in Immunology, a qualification necessary to become a specialist Biomedical Scientist (band 6 in the NHS). It took a while, but I’ve had my daughter in the meanwhile and currently, I’m working part-time.

How did your time at Staffordshire University prepare you for life after graduation?

Staffs Uni has enabled me to “put my foot in the door” and secure my job virtually straight after graduation. I’ve learnt an important lesson during my time at Staffs – you will only get as much out of something, as you’ve put into it and, hard work, really does pay off! Most importantly, if you don’t know or understand something, ask! If you don’t ask, you won’t know the answer and the academics really emphasised this during my studies.

What is your favourite memory of studying at Staffordshire University?

Coffee, coffee everywhere! I loved lounging and chatting to my friends in the different cafes the University has to offer. I also remember the proud feeling I had when carrying out my own final year project and being on my own in the laboratories. I felt like a scientist already! 🙂

I started my course in the old science building, so when we started the second year in the brand new state-of-art Science Centre, I remember walking through the corridors for the first time wide-eyed and being scared to touch anything, just in case I break it. It was kind of a wow factor for me.

What were the biggest challenges you had to overcome and how did you overcome them, whilst you studied with us?

Learning to write in an academic style and understanding what is required from the assignments were a challenge for me. I went to library and asked for help, which I received (you just needed to ask!). Planning also helped concerning everything- budget, assignment deadlines and career.

Would you recommend your course to others? If so, why?

Yes! It was interesting and challenging but very rewarding.

As part of your course you may have completed a work placement. If so, could you tell us a little about your experience?

I did a so-called co-terminus degree. Basically, in the first year I applied for a placement at the hospital, which enabled me to complete the IBMS registration portfolio during the second and third year. I was successful in getting a place and finished my portfolio at the end of my second year. This meant that, not only was I HCPC (The Health and Care Professions Council) registered before graduation, but I already had connections with my potential future employer. I’ve learnt, what it really means to be a Biomedical Scientist in practice, and I was able to use this knowledge at university. The summer between the second and third year I was offered my first mini-job in Immunology and started working at band 5 straight after graduation. 

Secret Stoke – Tell us about your favourite places in and around Stoke that student may not know about but should check out.

If you love good food, you must go to Bon Pan Asian, an all-you-can-eat restaurant in Intu Potteries Shopping Centre in Hanley. It’s fairly close to the university, roughly a 30 minute walk through Hanley Park or a 15 minute bus ride, and if you go during certain times, the price is totally affordable even for the students. Yum! Go out into the local nature, there’s more of it than it may seem. Stoke is surrounded by parks, lakes, nature reserves, country walks etc… and the peak district is so beautiful! And of course, you can’t miss Alton Towers, for a super fun day, or two.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Study, study, study but also live, love and laugh! Work-life balance is extremely important. Everything will be so much easier if you achieve it. Don’t forget to sort out a student discount card. It will get you loads of good deals on clothes, days out, eating out and so much more!


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