Thomas Drummond, who is 26 and lives in Newcastle Co Down, will graduate today from Queen’s University Belfast with a MEng Chemical Engineering, from what has been a long educational journey after leaving school without the grades he needed.
Talking about his studies, Thomas said: “During my time at secondary school, I developed a passion for chemistry and engineering. After completing my A-levels and receiving my results, unfortunately my grades did not meet the requirements to get into Queen’s to study chemical engineering. As such, I continued to develop my interest in chemistry by studying a two-year Level 5 Higher National Diploma in Applied Chemistry at Belfast Metropolitan College.”
Thomas achieved an overall distinction over the two years and reapplied to study chemical engineering at Queen’s. However, due to his low math A-level grade, he was unable to secure a place on the engineering course, but he was offered a place in the second year of the chemistry degree. Knowing that engineering was the discipline he wanted to pursue, he decided to re-take his math AS and A2 exams over one year rather than two.
“This commitment required me to work very hard, and to travel to Belfast from Newcastle to attend a one-hour class every day.
“After completing my exams, I had improved my previous A-level result from an E to an A. I was accepted onto the MEng Chemical Engineering SW pathway. I joined the rowing club at Queen’s as a novice and represented the club for three years in parallel to completing my studies. I took on roles such as novice manager and vice-captain of the club while continuing to train and race competitively. This experience has not only taught me how to manage and prioritise my time, it has also allowed me to develop a good understanding of leadership and teamwork.”
After his first year at Queen’s, he progressed onto the MEng pathway. Eight years after leaving secondary school, he completed his degree in 2020 with First-Class Honours.
“Hopefully my story will help those students who are unsuccessful getting into university and will provide some hope that there are other paths that can help them achieve what they want. My journey prepared me for university and helped me to achieve what I had set out to do from the start. I have had the honour of meeting and working with a diverse range of amazing people and I am now ready to begin my career as a chemical engineer. “
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