The University of Southampton

Holly Anne Farnham MPhys Physics with Mathematics, 2013

Physics teacher

Choosing Southampton

I chose Southampton because of the welcoming feel of the Physics and Astronomy department, its excellent reputation and the lovely campus.

Since training as a physics teacher, there have been so many highlights. Teaching is an emotional rollercoaster and I absolutely love it. I never in a million years thought I’d be a teacher.

Career highlights

Since training as a physics teacher, there have been so many highlights. Teaching is an emotional rollercoaster and I absolutely love it. I never in a million years thought I’d be a teacher, in fact I actively said I would never be one, but sharing what I love with students every day really is an honour.

Before I became a teacher I qualified as a medical physicist, specialising in radiation protection, which was a very proud moment. Training and working in a hospital environment was incredible. Medical physics (and particularly radiation protection, in my opinion) is such a dynamic and interesting field; I’ve kept my clinical scientist registration up in case I feel the call to go back. As a part of my training I spent a week with the Radiation Protection Team at CERN, which was brilliant.

Being part of a vibrant department at Southampton

I loved being part of a vibrant, warm and welcoming physics department. Staff and students alike were all approachable and willing to help. I also enjoyed working for the Students’ Union and being part of a great community there too. I always felt like I was where I should be when I was at university in Southampton and talk about it proudly when asked for my opinions on universities by my students.

I was a committee member for the student physics society, Physoc. I organised the winter and summer balls, and had such brilliant fun at all the Physoc events I went to.

At Southampton, I really enjoyed working with people who were at the top of their fields and being able to have access to state-of-the-art equipment (and minds!). I particularly enjoyed my third-year dissertation, as it felt like a privilege to be able to learn about something I was so passionate about, and work with an academic who is highly respected in that field.

Southampton was a pivotal time in my life

I felt that my time at Southampton was pivotal in the development of who I am today. I spent four years in a place where I felt welcome and was supported to explore my subject as I wanted, but also given the opportunity to be surrounded by people who I liked and respected to help me grown as a person. I made lifelong friends whilst at Southampton, both on and off my course.

My advice to Physics and Astronomy students

Embrace every opportunity, or as many as you can, there will be so many! Work hard but play hard too and when you need the support, welcome those who are reaching out to help you. Also… always go to your lab sessions!

If you’re interested in training in medical physics, do some work experience first. You must anyway, to get on to the scheme, but it also enables you to see the many different roles available in the field.

For students considering teaching, make sure that you are resilient and that you really do want to do it. It is the hardest job I have ever done but also the most rewarding, I can’t think of any other jobs that have as much job satisfaction (or as many daily emotions!).

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