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Rebecca Woods

Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Advanced Studies (Taronga Wildlife Conservation) student
Being enrolled in this course means Rebecca gets to study at two of Australia's most iconic locations - the University of Sydney and Taronga Zoo! Here she tells us about her study experience and plans for the future.
Rebecca Woods holding a joey in her arms

Why did you choose your degree?

I grew up surrounded by animals and knew from a young age that I had a passion for Australian wildlife. Taronga Zoo was like a second home to me for much of my life, and even the pets we had at home were Australian wildlife, never a dog or cat.

Into my teenage years I begun to really understand the need for conservation in Australia and the Taronga Wildlife Conservation course felt like the best way to help our wildlife in a substantial way.

How did it feel when you received your offer?

I was so excited! The offer for my first degree felt like a gateway to adult life, but the offer for my second degree was the most exciting - it felt like I had finally found a degree that was exactly right for me

Were you always interested in science?

Always – as a young kid I loved making crystals and volcanoes with the kits you can buy at stores, and I was always picking up bugs, lizards and birds as a young child and bringing them home.

In my senior years of high school I found myself really passionate about biology and really enjoyed learning the content, pushing me towards a science degree at university.

What’s your favourite unit you’re currently studying at uni?

At the moment I’m really enjoying my OLE unit - Australia’s Deadly Animals, which explores some of the misconceptions behind 'deadly' Australian animals and their biology.

However, my favourite unit from my degree so far has to be Tropical Wildlife Biology – the coordinators were awesome, the content is really interesting, and the chance to conduct your own fieldwork is an incredible opportunity. Not to mention it's set in the beautiful top end of the country - just out of Darwin.

While on this unit, I was able to see crocodiles up close and personal, handle snakes and other types of wildlife to learn how to identify a wide variety of species and develop my fieldwork skills in an independent and realistic way.

I highly recommend hopping into this unit - it is truly the experience of a lifetime!

What does your typical day at uni look like?

I like to get up early - my days are super busy as I work most nights, so I like to make the most of the early morning!

Before I sit down for the day, I have to make sure any wildlife I have in care is fed and that their enclosures are clean. Once I’ve finished the rounds, I have tea and toast, and then set up my desk space for online learning.

At the moment, I’m mostly based from home, but for some lessons during the semester I head to the Taronga Institute of Science and Learning to do class there. Usually my uni days wrap up around 3-4, and then I head in to work to coach aerial silks and trapeze for the nights!

On weekends, I like to dedicate some time to uni work, but I try to keep it balanced to make sure I don’t burn myself out.  

What surprised you most about this degree?

The interdisciplinary approach of this degree surprised me the most.

Coming into uni, I was very focused on science, and still am, but this degree has given me the chance to explore fields outside of biology and technical science - like policy and management writing, social science and various forms of statistical analysis.

What are your classmates like?

I’ve been lucky enough to meet some amazing people in this degree that I now consider some of my closest friends. I think that as a group of people you can expect your classmates in this degree to be driven, passionate people, with a strong desire to help Earth and the life we share it with.

What are your lecturers like?

My lecturers are incredibly talented professionals who convey their knowledge in effective and innovative ways. 

I’ve found them to be the kinds of people who are always happy to answer a question or explain something again, and also incredibly interesting researchers who can teach you a lot about the field.

Rebecca Woods performing her aerial skills

Have you undertaken any placement activities?

I went on placement to the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre as part of my degree and had the chance to work with sea turtles and rehabilitate them for release! It was an incredibly rewarding experience which gave me some amazing practical experience.

Outside of uni, I also volunteer with Sydney Wildlife, rescuing and rehabilitating native wildlife at home and assisting on our donation funded veterinary van. While I aspire to eventually make large scale differences, I believe every individual life is important and thus I find nothing more rewarding to do in my spare time.

I also like to stay active, so I train and coach aerial silks and trapeze. You can often find me studying on the silk in between classes, or unloading my stress levels by being upside down and active. 

What are your future career plans?

In my future I aspire to make a significantly positive impact for Australian wildlife in the face of contemporary threats.

My work in wildlife rehabilitation and rescue, and exposure to wildlife from a young age has shaped my perspective and cultivated an appreciation for the natural environment.

This has motivated me to work towards becoming a research scientist, working towards understanding the biology and ecology behind unique and threatened species.

I truly desire to make a significant difference for wildlife with this sort of work, and I want to find the answers and solutions that will help preserve and conserve our natural environment.

I love Australia, and would love to travel it while researching, working in different ecosystems and environments, and with diverse groups of people to help protect all the incredible life we are able to share this country with.

Any advice for someone who is thinking about applying for science?

Working hard in high school and doing subjects like biology and chemistry will go a long way in getting you prepared for uni!

Science is an incredibly fulfilling degree to choose, and there are so many different avenues and career paths to choose from.

Doing a science degree allowed me to explore different disciplines and then focus in on those topics I enjoyed.

 

Apply now for the Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Advanced Studies (Taronga Wildlife Conservation)