Mhairi graduated from Strathclyde in 2018 with a First Class Honours degree in Sport & Physical Activity. Awarded the Outstanding 4th Year Student prize, she wasn't just a high flyer academically, but also a talented athlete.
An ex-member of our High Performance Sport Programme, Mhairi specialises in the 400m hurdles. Her accolades include British Universities 400m Hurdles Champion and winner of a bronze medal at the England Athletics (UK) U23 Championships. For the last two years she's also been selected to represent Scotland at senior level.
Find out more about her time on the Programme and how she balanced her studies and sport.
"I can't recommend Strathclyde enough! I've been given great opportunities that I otherwise wouldn’t have come across and found a career route I'm extremely passionate about, while being allowed to combine my training throughout it all. "
Why did you chose Strathclyde?
I've always been passionate about sport and physical activity, and targeted a few universities in Scotland with relevant degrees. There were a few factors that made me decide on 'Strathy'. My training group and support network were already based in Glasgow so staying within travel distance to that was important to me.
The High Performance Sport Programme was definitely a contributing factor. After I'd investigated it properly and spoke to past graduates who'd already benefited from the Programme, I was convinced I would receive suitable support to combine both my sporting and academic career.
What was a typical day like for you at the University?
During university I had to balance my studies, training and a part time job. A typical day involved a shift at work and a couple of lectures in from 9am-4pm. Then I would travel to one of the Glasgow Sport facilities for training.
How do you feel the High Performance Sport Programme has benefited you?
I've been on the Programme for the majority of my time at university and it has helped me in a number of ways. The funding allowed me to spend less time working in a part time job and focus on training and competitions.
In particular being associated with the Programme created an understanding from my lecturers which allowed for greater flexibility to train or compete. For example, one year I had a competition and an exam that coincided and I was offered alternative exam options. I'm well aware this kind of flexibility was facilitated through the understanding of my course leaders who specialised in a sporting degree.
"The funding from the High Performance Sport Programme allowed me to spend less time working in a part time job and focus on training and competitions."
Was it challenging to fit your studies around sport?
There were times I did find it challenging, particularly in fourth year during my dissertation, pulling the occasional ‘all nighter’. However I think it’s like anything in life – as long as you're organised, know what you want and apply yourself, things become more manageable.
The fact that my part time job was with the University's Sports Union definitely aided me as it was on campus and like my course leaders they were also greatly understanding of my commitments. I think the same job I had at the Sports Union last year is going to be advertised for 2019-2020 and I'd recommend any student interested in sport to apply!
Were you involved in any extra-curricular activities while at Strathclyde?
I'm passionate about equality and diversity in every form. I sat on the ATHENA Swan Board at the University of Strathclyde that worked towards gender equality and the Netball Scotland Equality Advisory Group during an internship last year. I also enjoy public speaking and have jumped at the opportunity to do so for various clubs at the uni including the ‘Girl Up Strathclyde’ society and the LGBTIQ+ society.
How do you think the new Sports Centre will benefit students?
I think the new facility will benefit everyone from participation level to performance. I've experienced first-hand the social, mental and physical benefits of sport and physical activity, and the new facility will support students to receive these same benefits that are so important during their time at university.
I’m sure the new centre will also enhance the current High Performance Sport Programme and support funded athletes further, allowing them to train in a facility fit for purpose, and to participate in other performance related forms of support like sports massage or strength and conditioning.
What next for you now you’ve graduated?
I’m taking a year out to completely immerse myself in my sport. Ultimately I would like to go into further research and so will also be spending the year out investigating possible Masters courses for the following year. The end goal is a PhD so might even head back to Strathclyde to do that eventually...can’t get rid of me!
What would you say to athletes thinking about studying at Strathclyde?
I can’t recommend Strathclyde enough! I’ve had a fantastic time being a student here and have met friends for life. I've been given great opportunities that I otherwise wouldn’t have come across and found a career route I'm extremely passionate about, while being allowed to combine my training throughout it all. Then there are the new facilities that are opening soon and I’m sure that will sway anyone thinking about study here.