Emma Turnbull: Dart Scholar Update

Emma Turnbull, a 2014 High School Scholar and a 2018 William A. Dart Memorial University Scholar, is in her second year studying biomedical science at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom. Emma is also an avid squash player, having competed in the Caribbean Area Squash Association’s Junior Championship in Jamaica, the Pan Am games in Cayman and is now serving as the captain of the team at Newcastle University. Read on to learn more about Emma, her experience as a Dart Scholar and her plans for the year ahead.

What led you to apply for the Dart Scholarship programme?

I was one of the original Minds Inspired Scholars which I received at age 14. My mum thought I should apply as I also had an aptitude for maths and science, and I was lucky enough to be chosen. Since then, I have been fortunate enough to be supported by Dart all the way through my education, now into university.

How was being a Dart High School Scholar beneficial throughout your years in high school?

It was of huge benefit. Even though I have always been very driven and focused, being a Dart Scholar has meant that I have always had something important to strive for. I have always felt the responsibility of being a good role model for Dart and meeting their high expectations and so I have had even extra momentum to do well. Ms Glenda has been amazing throughout my school years and has always been so supportive of me in my study choices.

I have also had some amazing trips abroad, such as the visit to CERN in Switzerland, which was so interesting and the two weeks at the University of Oxford, which I also really enjoyed and helped me appreciate university life early on.

Due to your academic success in high school, you were awarded the William A. Dart Memorial scholarship to continue on at University. Can you tell us how about your experience as a Dart Scholar at University?

I have been extremely lucky to have Dart’s support through my university years. My first-year was quite a big adjustment for me, physically, emotionally and financially. Learning to live on a budget has been a big adjustment and I am grateful to Dart for providing the financing for my university years. I have also enjoyed the connection with Dart when I’m home and very much enjoy meeting the new scholars each year.

You’re currently in your second year at Newcastle University where you’ve recently become the captain of the squash team. Tell us about your experience playing squash and balancing sports with studies.

At the end of last year, Newcastle University’s women’s first team was promoted to the Premier League of the BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport) league and therefore our training has increased a great deal this year. I am the team captain which means a lot more added responsibilities for me.

We have training every Mondays evening, local league matches on Tuesdays, strength and conditioning on Wednesdays (to prevent injury and includes weight exercises), local league on Thursdays, and on Fridays I also have strength and conditioning plus I also teach social squash for beginners to advanced. During the week, I also fit in a one-to-one lesson with the team coach.

We also have weekends away every term which is where we travel and play the top eight universities in the country.

Being captain, I am responsible for a lot of admin such as making sure everyone is available for away matches, getting the score sheets for everyone’s match printed out, encouraging people to turn up to every training session so they are ready for the next match, making sure everyone has the correct kit to wear, entering the match scores online, talking to the other university’s captains and agreeing that all the scores are correct and signing the sheets to make sure we both have the correct scores.

Balancing sports with studies means I’m on campus for a lot longer than everyone else, as many people will just go in for their lectures for the day and leave, whereas I’m in from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. most days. On Mondays, I stay even later to get school work done in the library.

On top of all that, I am also on the squash club committee board as the social secretary which is where I teach as well as organise socials for the team members to help first year students integrate into the team and feel welcome.

Tell us about some of the classes you are taking and how they are helping shape your plans for the future.

Last semester, I took a module in cell and molecular biology of the immune system that I liked. I really enjoyed the labs that came along with it which really opened my eyes as to what I want to do as a career in the future such as working in a lab as a medical lab technician or as a clinical embryologist or something similar. I’ve had quite a bit of work experience working in labs, including working at the Cayman Fertility Clinic.

Next year, I will be exploring further qualifications, such as a Master’s and I hope to undertake more modules to give me a better appreciation of the types of jobs that are available.

Have you participated in the Work-X programme at Dart? If so, when and what did you do? Did that help with your current career path or is this a chance for you to see other options out there?

When I was 15, I did some work experience with DECCO as I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and thought I might go into engineering or architecture. I really enjoyed my time working with the team and I still feel proud whenever I drive past certain buildings in Camana Bay as I helped choose their colour scheme. I also worked at Health City’s lab which was facilitated by Dart. I really enjoyed that experience and that certainly helped shape my university subject choice of biomedical science.

Do you have any advice for other students that are looking at studying STEM subjects?

If you are interested in subjects such as biology and chemistry it is definitely worth studying maths as well as maths is an important part of science subjects. Don’t worry if things don’t make sense in the AS year of your A-levels, as I found it all came together at A-level! It’s also a good idea to choose a general science subject for your degree if you aren’t sure exactly where you want to go, career-wise. Biomedical science is really general and it gives you lots of options to specialise if you aren’t sure.