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Success Story: Passionate PhD Scholar Pursues Academic Ambitions

Success Story: Passionate PhD Scholar Pursues Academic Ambitions

Have your undergraduate studies ignited a passion for academia you never knew you had?

Sarwar Islam hadn’t always planned to go on to study at PhD level – but when he came to the end of his undergraduate studies he knew that he didn’t want his university journey to end there.

After completing a bachelor’s degree in Financial Mathematics, Sarwar decided that the world of corporate finance wasn’t for him. Instead he felt he wanted to do something he felt would help people and society, so decided to apply his skills to medicine.

Explaining his decision, Sarwar said: “My undergraduate was in Financial Mathematics, however, I wanted to move away from a career in the corporate financial industry and work towards building a more academic or research focussed career where my work would make a more meaningful impact in society.

IMG_5246 (2)“So I wanted to apply my mathematical and statistical knowledge in medicine to make a contribution to public health research including cancer and other medical issues. The MSc in Medical Statistics was an excellent way to achieve this and make that first step towards an academic career.”

Since completing his MSc with the help of The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity, Sarwar’s academic career has gone from strength to strength. Right after completing his master’s degree, he went to work for three months at the University of Oxford as a Medical Statistician and since then has secured a three year fully funded PhD studentship in Biostatistics at the University of Leicester.

“The MSc gave me invaluable experience and applied knowledge in working with statistics in medicine and because it was a well-recognised course with excellent reputation, it opened up a lot of opportunities for me and significantly improved my employability,” said Sarwar.

Sarwar found out about the Charity through a friend, who also applied for and received a loan for postgraduate studies. He then applied for a loan himself after struggling to receive funding through other routes, and he didn’t want to apply for a conventional loan that would take his focus away from his studies.

The main issue was that he left it fairly last-minute to do choose to do his MSc, Sarwar recalled: “I decided quite late on that this is what I wanted to do which meant that, although there were other opportunities for funding, they were already extremely competitive and almost nothing was left at the time of my application for the course.

“Not only this, but due to existing financial circumstances at the time, I wasn’t in a position where I was able to take out a conventional loan that require immediate repayment.”

Luckily Sarwar applied for a loan and received it from us, allowing him to focus whole-heartedly on his academic progression. He now harbours ambitions to become a biostatistician and work abroad, or he might even become a lecturer himself one day – passing on his knowledge and enthusiasm to the next generation of budding academics.

Sarwar’s postgraduate education has opened up wide range of opportunities that he wouldn’t have if he had stopped studying after his first stint at university – proving his decision to follow his passion was the right one.

Thinking of applying for one of our loans? Sarwar’s advice to anyone thinking of applying would be: “I’d tell them not to think and just do. What’s the worst that could happen? If you don’t apply, you definitely won’t get the loan, and if you do then at least you have a chance, and the chances are that most likely you will.”

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