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Karen Aguilera

BSc Geography graduate

BSc Geography graduate, Karen Aguilera, made the admirable and courageous decision to study at UCLan whilst having a six-year-old son and a nine-month-old daughter.

Having to juggle her studies with caring for two young children was a difficult task but one that has turned out to be a great decision for Karen, as she now works as a Waste Control & Minimisation Officer at The North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust.

“My degree allowed me to take a holistic view to working as it has provided me with the knowledge to understand the potential physical impacts on people and the environment and the legal impact on my organisation if I fail to do my job well,” Karen said.

“It has allowed me to focus on the most sustainable options and best practice and gain an appreciation for continuous development – the world is constantly changing and we need to keep up with it!”

As well as having a full-time job, Karen also helps in the local community by supporting environmental initiatives and giving guest lectures at UCLan.

“I support local environmental initiatives such as the School Sustainability Conference and was awarded the Green Ambassador Award at the Lancashire Green Awards in 2013.

I have also been back to the University to give a guest talk so I do still like to volunteer occasionally,” Karen said.

“I decided to study at UCLan because they had the type of subject I wanted to study and I would most definitely recommend UCLan to others.”

Karen believes her overall University experience set her up just as well for her career as the degree did, pointing to her experiences on field trips as unforgettable.  “I loved the long walks, the river surveys, soil pit digging and the field trips to Keswick, the Isle of Wight and China. They were all incredible experiences that I will always remember,” Karen said.

However, just as the case is with many students, it was the development of her self-confidence that Karen believes was the biggest outcome of her time at UCLan. “I learnt more about who I am as an individual than anything else; building confidence in my abilities and because of my degree I was able to find a career in an industry that I am passionate about,” Karen concluded.

The biggest piece of advice Karen gives to current students is to network. She says to go to the networking events that the University puts on as well as external exhibitions as you never know how important the people you may meet could be for your career.