Kate Harper completed a degree in BSc (Hons) Animal Science in 2019. She now owns a Dog Training School in Kent. We caught up with Kate to chat about her time studying at WUC and her exciting career.
Why did you choose WUC?
I chose to study at Writtle because the animal department staff seemed really welcoming and friendly and the courses seemed to offer the mix of practical and theoretical lessons I was looking for.
Mostly the lecturers and support staff were amazing. They took the time to get to know all the students and supported us with anything we needed which was possible due to the small class sizes.
Many of my friends who went to other universities say their lecturers never learnt their names which I find bizarre as it's so different from my experience at Writtle. The lecturers have continued to support me and my fellow students since we've left, which has been amazing.
I also love the fact that we were encouraged to critically analyse everything we were taught and think outside the box.
Science and society is changing all the time so it's important to be able to take a step back, think critically and originally and not just learn to regurgitate scientific or other information.
Tell us about your current job.
I currently own a Dog Training school in Kent and am a Head Instructor for UK Sniffer Dogs plus an Instructor at Mantrailing UK. I employ a number of support staff and dog trainers who teach at three different locations.
As well as running my own dog school I have been lucky enough to be involved in all kinds of interesting projects such as teaching dog training programmes in prisons, consulting on welfare monitoring for therapy dogs, training dogs for 'Dogs for Autism' and have assisted the Army with search exercises with sniffer dogs I've trained myself.
I also work with local authorities and police at community events where we offer dog welfare, training and legal advice to the public.
How has your time at WUC helped you in your career?
I think it has empowered me and given me the confidence to do whatever I want in my career.
I am very happy being a dog trainer and love the freedom being self-employed gives me, but equally I feel like I could walk into a job at DEFRA or in a laboratory and succeed. This is because the skills I've gained are broad.
I have a working understanding of animal science and farming systems, can analyse data and research but I also have the ability to communicate it simply and present it to any parties.
I would be just as at home working with farmers as I would be working with scientists or politicians.
Whatever I do I know I can hold my own and be a proud WUC grad!! So I think I would say WUC ultimately has given me freedom, confidence and great transferable skills.
What are your plans for the future?
My plans for the future are to continue doing what I'm doing because I love it!
I have recently been made a Head Instructor for UK Sniffer Dogs so I am looking forward to starting to train and assess other dog trainers which is a new challenge.
I have also just bought a small flock of sheep who we intend to use for training dogs to become accustomed to sheep and not chase them. This has been a goal of mine for some time as sheep worrying from dogs is such a difficult rural issue.
For more information on Writtle University College's animal-related courses, go to writtle.ac.uk/animal.