My name is Josh Whitehead and I'm a 20-year-old student living in Edinburgh but was brought up in the town of Dunblane where I attended both primary and high school. I'm currently in my third year of the BSc (Hons) Physical Activity, Health and Wellbeing programme at QMU. In between high school and university I took a gap year where I worked as an outdoor educator in Ontario, Canada.
Since then, I have gone back to Canada every summer to help run the summer camp there in various roles, including special needs coordinator and assistant director. I attend Charlotte Chapel in the centre of Edinburgh and am the president of the Christian Union at QMU. My hobbies include football, running, photography and playing the drums.
Why did you choose to study at QMU and what attracted you to the course?
I attended an open day at QMU with my cousin, who was much older than me at the time, but I loved QMU then. Later on, when I realised I wanted to pursue a career within the sports industry, the BSC (Hons) Physical Activity Health and Wellbeing was the only course I found that ticked all the boxes I was looking for. It combined sports science, gym instructing and also contained a large clinical aspect to broaden knowledge on exercise prescription
Why did you choose to study in Edinburgh?
It was a nice distance from home, not too far away from my parents that I couldn’t visit them if I needed to do some emergency washing, but far enough away I felt independent. I also liked how many opportunities there were and how ‘studenty’ it was with three other universities within close proximity.
What have you most enjoyed about your course? What has been your highlight?
The highlight of the course for me has been the first-year placement I did with the “fit for health’ scheme run by Edinburgh Leisure. It was amazing being allowed to put our learning into practice and help the local community in achieving weekly fitness goals. We helped run circuit classes for those who had been referred for exercise, mainly older adults, who really appreciated our time and help in overcoming their fitness barriers.
Has there been a particular course activity you found especially interesting?
The second-year module, called exercise prescription, was really interesting. Learning about the different stages in the process of training a client including relevant paperwork, teaching styles and important techniques. All this training aligns with personal training qualifications which can be taken at the same time and is a great asset to have on a CV.
How have your lecturers supported your learning?
I was in contact with the lecturers even before I started the course – they were great at communicating what I needed to do to apply and what would improve my application. Throughout the course, the lecturers have been quick to respond to emails containing questions or queries and enjoy discussing questions after class as well. They have set up socials every month as a chance to get to know them and relate to them, which I think is really special.
Have you accessed any of the University’s support services during your studies and how have they helped you?
I have a form of dyslexia called dysgraphia and have used QMU’s disabilities service - they were really helpful at providing what I needed to learn.
Are you a member of a QMU club or society?
I am a member of the Christian Union. I really enjoyed meeting other Christians on campus through a wide variety of events and enjoy trying to share that message with everyone else on campus. On top of events we have retreats with other Christian Unions in Edinburgh which is a great opportunity to get to know others outside of QMU. The weekly meetings are engaging and I’ve gotten to know the other members so well, it feels like a family.
What’s your ‘top tip’ for making the most of being a student?
Don’t be afraid to get stuck in – on my first day my Mum forced me to go to ‘speed friending’ which I thought sounded ridiculous but actually it provided a great opportunity to chat and open up to strangers who are in the same boat and feeling slightly apprehensive/excited about starting university. I’m not saying you need to go to speed friending but you should try to attend some events as they’re a great opportunity to meet new people and/or bond with your new flat mates.
"I have a form of dyslexia called dysgraphia and have used QMU’s disabilities service - they were really helpful at providing what I needed to learn."
What has been the most valuable lesson that you’ve learned at university?
Not to make decisions based on what I think other people will think of me, but instead to think decisions through logically and ask for guidance from those I trust.
What are you plans after graduation? Tell us about your ambitions and where you see yourself in the future?
In terms of a career, I’m looking into different routes including exercise prescription or physiotherapy. Most further careers in these fields require a masters or higher education so I plan to carry on studying after this degree. Aside from that, I hope to carry on making life decisions and choices based on where God is calling me and where I will be most happy, wherever that may take me.
Do you have any advice for students who might be interested in this course?
I would strongly recommend this course if you are interested in sport but don’t know what career path you want to go down. It’s not a sports science course but instead it focuses on how sport and physical activity can improve health within communities.
Published August 2020