The opportunity to put skills and knowledge into practice in an on-campus clinic is unique to Leeds Beckett

Student spotlight | Margaret Kalilani-Themuka, BSc (Hons) Sports and Exercise Therapy 


Margaret Kalilani-Themuka smiling

My name is Margaret, I’m 22 years old and I have come to the end of my undergraduate studies. The course I was studying was Sports and Exercise Therapy, and post-graduation I will be studying medicine.

Tell us a bit about yourself and what drew you to Sports and Exercise Therapy

I’m a final year sports and exercise therapy student and I lived in the city centre in a studio flat. I’m originally from Beeston in Bedfordshire and I’ve really enjoyed my time at Leeds Beckett and the social life here. I was familiar with the city before, so it made the move to Leeds easier as I knew the area. I remember the first time visiting Leeds Beckett and I was blown away by the facilities on both campuses, and I also liked how Leeds is a student friendly city.

I chose to study sports and exercise therapy because sport has always been a big part of my life. I had the opportunity to be part of many sports teams as school and I knew the importance of a healthy body and how crucial it is to minimise injuries during exercise. I suffered four ankle injuries and I truly came to appreciate those who helped me in my recovery to regain peak physical fitness, and that inspired me to seek a degree in sports therapy. Studying physical education and biology also furthered my curiosity in sport and the human body, and contributed to my desire to explore these further.

What made you choose Leeds Beckett?

I chose Leeds Beckett mainly because of the course. When I was looking at other universities I noticed that Leeds Beckett was the only university to have ‘exercise’ in the course titled Sport Therapy and this intrigued me. I later learned that Leeds Beckett is the only university in the UK that includes the word ‘exercise’ in the degree because a key part of the course is linked to exercise and is a thread that runs throughout the degree. Another reason why I chose Leeds Beckett is that I was told that in your first year, about six weeks into the course, you get the opportunity to go into the clinic that is in Headingley Campus to put into practice the skills and knowledge you have acquired; again, this is something unique to Leeds Beckett. I liked the idea of starting my placement hours in first year so that when I came to third year you already have some of your hours completed. Plus, being exposed to real patients early on really helped with my learning. I’m a practical learner so being able to put all the theory I’ve learnt into practice helped me retain that knowledge.

What has been your favourite thing about your time studying at Leeds Beckett?

I’ve really enjoyed being part of the societies that LBU has to offer. I belong to two societies – one of which I co-founded in my second year with my course mates. The first society I’m part of is the Women’s Lacrosse Club. I’ve played lacrosse for 10 years, so I was looking forward to being part of the Women’s Lacrosse Club. The second society I’m part of is SET SOC, which is a course-based society. When I first came to Leeds Beckett I noticed that there were societies for physiotherapy and occupational therapy, and I wondered why there wasn’t one for my course. However, in my second year induction week, our tutors made it known to us that students can set up societies themselves. So I took that opportunity, as I believed there was a genuine need for a course-based society. My role as president has opened many doors for me; I’ve been able to be a course representative and a Student Ambassador. From these roles I got the chance to be a mentor for Black African, Black Caribbean and Black British students, which gave me the opportunity to grow and expand on my skills and knowledge.

What advice would you give someone thinking about studying this course?

First and foremost I would say don’t compare yourself to others because this can lead to you devaluing yourself, which can inhibit you from reaching your true potential. The step up from A level to university is huge, and coming into first year I was so overwhelmed by the amount of work we had to do. However, I soon realised that I just had to take things step by step so try to stay up to date with your work so by the time exams come you’re not overloaded with work. I’m someone that likes to put myself into positions that challenge me and that allow me to grow. That is why I would encourage you to join societies because aside from my academics I have learnt a lot from engaging with students in my societies, which has helped me develop my interpersonal skills. I also value the balanced approach to my studies, so whatever societies you choose to be part of you will gain skills that will allow you to be more effective in group projects, more critical of theory application, which will develop the skills you will need to become a professional and ethical sports and exercise therapist.

What will your story be?

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