Student success stories
Studying at SRUC can be a great stepping stone to the career you've always dreamed about. Read about some of our former students and how their course has helped them achieve their goals.
BSc Applied Animal Science, 2016
"I am very happy to engage with people on how exciting the poultry industry is, how advanced it is technologically compared to some other agricultural sectors and the sheer variety of the work that I have in my job."
Read Molly's full story below.
“I was quite naïve about what happens for an egg to go from farm to fork,” says Molly Beattie, who works as a Poultry Officer for the Scottish Government. “I am very happy to engage with people on how exciting the poultry industry is, how advanced it is technologically compared to some other agricultural sectors and the sheer variety of the work that I have in my job.”
Molly’s role is varied and includes undertaking inspections of laying hen arms, packing centres, wholesalers, chick hatcheries and distribution sites, dealing with food safety, food fraud, animal welfare, quality assurance processes - all to ensure that the eggs are fit for human consumption.
Being a SRUC graduate has its advantages: “There is that moment when you are talking with someone on a production site and you say that you studied at SRUC – it has a good reputation, people know about it and may even have studied there themselves – they can see that you and they are on a similar wavelength. It can be a good conversation starter!”
In relation to her degree studies, Molly feels it “was broad and had a really good mixture of practical sessions, visits and lectures which have held me in good stead in my working life.”
And final words of wisdom from Molly: “Agriculture and associated industries need intelligent and forward-thinking teams – SRUC is very well placed to provide these people.”
Professional Cookery, SRUC Elmwood, 1994
"I rely very much on the foundation I received at Elmwood. I remember college so clearly, every single corridor, every room."
Read Barry's full story below.
He has catered for Louis Vuitton, Aston Martin and Rolls Royce, worked with Nigel Slater, Waitrose, and Nespresso, and is considered one of Scotland’s top chefs. Not bad for someone who, in his own words, wasn’t the best student SRUC has ever seen.
Like many teenagers, Barry Bryson didn’t know what he wanted to do when he left school. He did know he liked food and when his career adviser suggested he might be best suited to a “practical” option after school, he enrolled at Elmwood College, on what is now the Professional Cookery course at SRUC.
While he says he was “never a grade A student, I did apply myself without knowing whether I was going to do anything with it. I was very much about getting to the city, all I cared about was having as broad an experience as possible.”
After two years in Elmwood, he did a spell in London restaurants, working in a range of positions around the capital before returning to Scotland. His career took off when, aged 22, he was offered the opportunity to take over the café in the Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh. Running the business and creating a kitchen team was a “baptism of fire”. It was then, Barry says, that “the time that Elmwood became more important to me, because I was finding I was having to go back to things I hadn’t done since I was at college”.
After seven years, he moved on to create Circles bistro in Edinburgh’s Canonmills, which he ran for a further seven years before starting his business, Cater Edinburgh. Working primarily for luxury brands, Barry provides restaurant experiences in locations around the country. He is also a private chef, cooking in “some amazing homes, in some spectacular locations”.
Even with his growing success, Barry says he continues to “rely very much on that foundation I received at Elmwood. I remember college so clearly, every single corridor, every room.”
While he may not have been a star student, Barry never stopped wanting to learn. A willingness to keep learning he feels has been key to his success. “What I’ve done is have a much broader training throughout the industry. A lot of it, I’m proud to say, is self-taught. So, my point is, you never stop learning.”
BSc Horticulture with Plantsmanship, 2013
"I have probably one of the best jobs in the world. I work in the internationally renowned botanic garden engaging people with plants and developing areas for the future."
Read Kirsty's full story below.
You may have seen Kirsty on the BBC’s much-loved Beechgrove Garden, which she joined as a presenter in 2019. However, Kirsty’s ‘main’ job is at the Royal Botanical Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) where she is the Herbaceous Supervisor.
“I have probably one of the best jobs in the world. I work in the internationally renowned botanic garden engaging people with plants and developing areas for the future.”
Kirsty’s job also involves overseas travel on occasions and in 2019 she undertook her first botanical expedition to China to collect wild plant material.
Prior to her job at the RBGE, Kirsty worked for HRH Prince Charles as a production horticulturalist in his garden at Highgrove; as an internal trainee at America’s top public garden, Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania; and as a glasshouse supervisor at St Andrews Botanical Garden.
“The SRUC course really prepares you for going into the world of horticulture – it teaches you how to grow, maintain and identify plants and design future horticultural spaces.”
MSc Organic Farming, 2017
"The camaraderie between my fellow students and the staff at the SRUC was very special over the three years of study and it lives on regardless of the distances. The MSc Organic Farming is a game changer. It changed my life!"
Read Robby's full story below.
Robby Gass graduated in 2017 from the SRUC MSc Organic Farming programme and went on to start a successful consultancy business. Robby explains how how instrumental the SRUC distance learning course was to his achievements.
“With more than 25 years of South African conventional and mixed organic farming experience I returned to Scotland in 2013,” said Robbie. “As the newly appointed manager of a horticultural training nursery I also successfully completed the MSc Organic Farming degree in 2017 and the opportunities grew from there. My income grew to a new level, I was given more responsibility with autonomy and opinion was treated with higher regard.”
Robby then went on to create his own business Alba Organics, an independent organic consultancy business. As a consultant he improves the operations of experienced and prospective organic famers with farms of various sizes and types in Britain and in Europe.
“The camaraderie between my fellow students and the staff at the SRUC was very special over the three years of study and it lives on regardless of the distances. The MSc Organic Farming is a game changer. It changed my life!”
BSc (Hons) Agriculture, 2019
"My studies have helped me discover new ways of thinking about how we can influence what is happening in the world on quite major levels."
Read Katie's full story below.
Disillusionment with her career as a beauty therapist led Katie into studying Agriculture at SRUC, despite having little experience in the area.
“I wanted to learn about how we can live more sustainably, how we produce the things we do and how we consume things,” said Katie. “All of these thought processes combined into an interest in farming and the ways people work the land, but I didn’t know the first thing about it.
“After the first year, I was hooked. As I have worked through, I have discovered all about other aspects I had no idea were part of agriculture.”
Five years after starting on the National Certificate course at SRUC’s Oatridge campus, she graduated with a BSc degree from the Edinburgh campus and – after taking a year out to represent SRUC as vice-president of the Student Association – has now continued her academic career to undertake a PhD.
“My studies have helped me discover new ways of thinking about how we can influence what is happening in the world on quite major levels.”
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