Biomedical Sciences

Savitri Itwaru: Protecting my country's biodiversity

Savitri, from South America, explains why she chose to study the Masters in Biodiversity, Wildlife, and Ecosystem Health.

What motivates you?

My decision to pursue a career in environmental studies was inspired through my participation in environmental camps as a teenager. The importance of ecological systems and the flora and fauna that reside within those systems was exemplified through a variety of projects and activities. 

What is your background? 

The first step in securing my path was obtaining a BSc in Environmental Studies from the University of Guyana. From there on, my career path was solidified after securing employment at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Guyana, where my responsibilities are to ensure a balance between economic development and protection and conservation of the country’s natural resources. 

Why this programme?

Despite obtaining a BSc and practical experience in my job, the urge to further qualify myself in the field of biodiversity lingered; however, with the onset of family life this seemed a bit out of reach. Nonetheless, I was determined to secure a MSc through an online approach, and after much research I discovered the programme offered by the University of Edinburgh in Biodiversity, Wildlife and Ecosystem Health.

After reviewing the programme structure, I was convinced this was the right option for me. However, I was a bit apprehensive in applying given nine years had elapsed since I obtained my first degree. Despite my apprehensions, I was determined to achieve this goal and the honour that comes with graduating from a university that has such a rich history and excellent record of academic achievement. 

What tips do you have for balancing study and life? 

Following acceptance to the programme, the need to balance family, work and school life began to sink in and I quickly realised that my multi-tasking capabilities would be put to the test. I found that with a schedule, prioritising tasks, and overall good planning I was able to complete the tasks assigned on time. However, with the onset of COVID-19 and complications associated with this pandemic, time management became a bit more difficult. 

What have you been able to do since completing the MSc that wasn't possible before?

The journey of obtaining a MSc alongside working had its advantages since I was able to apply concepts learnt in class to my every day job. I discovered that my analytical and critical thinking skills were significantly improved. This was a major difference in studying for an undergraduate degree versus a postgraduate degree.

The manner in which I conversed on issues in the work place was significantly different; even my peers noticed the difference in my approach when delivering presentations, and also assessing documents such as Environmental Impact Assessments, biodiversity assessments and environmental management plans. 

What does the future look like for you? 

For me, the application of this MSc in my current post in the Oil and Gas Department of the EPA has never been more important, since often the implications on biodiversity in both the terrestrial and marine environment have often been overlooked. To this end, it is my intention to ensure that the concepts learned throughout this course are communicated through my review process, and to ensure that the appropriate biodiversity safeguards are put in place to protect and conserve my country’s biological patrimony.