Update from Glass Sellers’ Scholar – Shadman Khan
Shadman Khan our Glass Sellers’ Scholar has just completed his third year as a medical student at University College London. As with all our scholars he seems to be thriving at university and taking challenges in his stride.
The year started with us thrown into a new environment, mixed in with students from other subjects. Instead of being in a lecture full of hundreds of people, most of my lectures were in much smaller groups. Personally, I quite enjoyed this as we got to know our colleagues from other courses and was able to ask questions to the lecturers more directly. The experience was much like being in a tutorial.
One highlight of this year has been the ability to do a research project at one of UCL’s excellent labs. I was looking at measuring ATP in the mitochondria of HeLa (cancer) and neuron cells. Instead of giving live presentations we had to record everything and send them online as a presentation.
Taking the moment to step back from the volume of content in years 1 and 2 I got a chance to think more deeply about science and the scientific methodology. Doing some lab work myself showed me what a career in research would be like and will certainly be useful when I do some clinical research as I progress my career.
Impact of the pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic took us all by surprise. Everything at UCL closed down quite quickly, but rightly so. As well as the anxiety, I saw a remarkable amount of hope and perseverance in people during this testing time. From the head of my lab making sure everyone was coping with suddenly putting their experiments on hold to the module leads and admin staff who worked frantically to sort out our exams, everyone pulled through to make the most of the situation.
Medical students really went above and beyond as the final year students were ‘rushed to the frontline’ without time for a proper graduation. Those in the years below also helped out with volunteering both in the hospitals and community. As I had fairly important exams this year my attention remained with my studies, but I do look up to everyone who helped out during the pandemic.
My exams were supposed to be held in the ExCel Centre but due to the lockdown the lecturers and admin staff decided to set coursework questions instead. So, instead of sitting five exams I wrote up five pieces of coursework – ranging from computational neuroscience to neurosurgery to mitochondrial biology. In fact, I had just submitted my final piece of work last week (week of 15 June).
Looking to the future
Finally, what are some of the things I am looking forward to? I am looking forward to going into hospitals next year and seeing the medical theory I learnt put to practice. I also look forward to learning some of the skills of a doctor such as examining a patient and making diagnoses – though it will still be some time before I master them. I also look forward to society returning to a ‘new normal’. By this I do not mean social distance measures but rather a new normal where we as individuals are more aware of our vulnerabilities as a society and how precious life really is.
I am glad the Worshipful Company of Glass Sellers of London are in the process of finding the next set of scholars. It is really good to see your charitable work continuing to help students. I must give a huge thank you to Maria Chanmugam and Prof. Whiteman, and of course the trustees for everything they have done.