My name is Vicky Meah and I was a student at Cardiff Met for just under 9 years… It all started in 2009 with a BSc Sport and Exercise Science and finished in 2018 with a PhD in Exercise Physiology.
I have actually been around Cardiff Met for way longer. As a kid, I was part of the sports camps at Cyncoed and when I got the option to study there too, I was over the moon. I am from Cardiff and I wanted to be able to stay close to home so I could continue to work for my dads business alongside studying.
I have always been very sporty and active, but also pretty into science, so being able to do Sport and Exercise Science was the perfect course for me. I enjoyed all aspects of the course, but in my final year, I realized that I really loved exercise physiology; this is focused on the benefits of exercise to health and less about sport performance. For my final year project, I studied how women’s hearts functioned during exercise and I realised that I had fallen in love with research! I am quite inquisitive, so not necessarily having all the answers and having to think in different ways than just learning from a textbook really interested me. Plus watching your heart beat on screen in real time was just one of the coolest things I had ever seen!
Although I hadn’t really ever considered it before, the whole experience in my final year (as well as getting a scholarship from Cardiff Met) made me decide that I would like to stick around to complete my postgraduate studies. I started off enrolled as a Master of Philosophy (MPhil) and then after a couple of years, transferred to a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). Doing a PhD basically means completing new research that provides answers to significant questions that help us to better understand a specific topic. For my PhD, I investigated how a woman’s heart changes during pregnancy, and how this changes with prenatal exercise. In order to complete this research, I built on all the knowledge I learnt during my Undergrad, learnt how to take images of the heart and then focused all of my reading and learning on a topic I was really passionate about.
As well as being able to study something I loved every day, my PhD took me to some awesome places including America, Italy, the Netherlands, and Canada. This is actually how I managed to get a job as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Alberta, Canada and I moved here in 2018 after I finished my course. Moving country is a challenging but amazing life experience, and I am so glad I can do it as part of work.. I still get to travel around the world – I went to Peru last year on a research expedition – and sometimes it even brings me home again!
Postgraduate study wasn’t necessarily on my radar when I first started University, but I am so grateful to the lecturers at Cardiff Met who supported me to apply after my Undergrad and then ultimately help me to complete my PhD. It has opened so many doors for me that I didn’t even really know existed and I have made some amazing friends and memories along the way. Not many people can wake up each day and say that they love their job, I do and I really owe it to my experiences at Cardiff Met!