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Zoo presenter finds her voice

Published: January 3, 2018

Newquay animals | University

A former zoology student has found a voice that she never knew she had following a work placement at the zoo.

Rhiann Mitchell-Holland, who has recently finished a stint as a wildlife presenter at Newquay Zoo, never would have imagined of ending up where she has after graduating from her degree in Applied Zoology.

“Presenting was the last thing I thought I’d do,” Rhiann explains.

“When it came to talking in front of a group, presenting my own work, I could barely sleep the night before as I was just so nervous. I would have rather done a thousand assignments than one presentation as I was quite shy and never felt like it was my strength.”

When Rhiann saw placement opportunities at Newquay Zoo advertised, she knew she wanted to work there, but initially applied for an education assistant role, instead of a presenting job that would require her to face her fear of speaking in public.

“However, after talking to a friend of mine from the zoo, they persuaded me to go for both and after a successful interview, I got the presenting job.”

And while Rhiann admits the first two weeks “were really nerve-wracking”, she adds “but grew to absolutely love it”.

“I gave talks to crowds of over 400 people and I didn’t feel nervous at all.”

Rhiann’s route to graduating from Cornwall College Newquay was not straight forward. After initially gaining a qualification in Hair & Beauty after school, Rhiann took some time out to have her 3 children before returning to education to do an Access to HE course and then finally onto a degree programme in Zoology.

Rhiann has always loved wildlife and has had a passion for saving animals for as long as she can remember.

She explains: “I was the one saving insects in the swimming pool on holiday as a child. It’s an innate passion and desire and I knew that I wasn’t going to be happy doing anything else. So when my kids were old enough, I thought now is the time to go back to uni.”

After initially applying for a veterinary course, Rhiann found out it wasn’t for her.

“Conservation, education and welfare was more what I was about. So I applied for the course at Cornwall College in Newquay, got a place and the minute I sat down, I knew it was where I belong. One hundred percent I’d made the right decision.”

Rhiann completed the FdSc Wildlife Education & Media course before doing a third year top up to a full BSc degree in Applied Zoology. Rhiann enjoyed her experience at Cornwall College Newquay and recommends it to everyone.

Rhiann explains: “Its helped me in many aspects of my life, not just my career and knowledge base, but my confidence, my self-esteem, how I approach and talk to people now, I feel like I can do anything and its given me a new zest for life. The size of the campus is great as you get that one-to-one tuition, you can always find lecturers for guidance and support when you need it”.

“Cornwall College Newquay is the place to go if you are interested in studying or working with animals, whether terrestrial or marine. The opportunities that it opens up for you are endless, you can enter fields such as zoology, conservation, education, welfare, husbandry, research, wildlife filmmaking and many more, it really is huge. In terms of helping you to find your focus, Cornwall College is where it’s at.”

Rhiann has now completed her six month work placement at Newquay Zoo but will return to complete another seasonal placement in March 2018. Rhiann said: “The job at the zoo was incredible; I made so many friends and shared so much knowledge. I always thought I was more of an animal person than a people person but I’ve learned that people are amazing and each one of them has something to teach me. I formed friendships with so many unique people on a daily basis, who can say that they do that in their job? It was really humbling and massively rewarding, I can’t wait to return next year.”

For more information on the range of Zoology, Surf and Marine courses available at Cornwall College Newquay visit www.cornwall.ac.uk or call 0330 123 2523.

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