While high school didn’t suit her needs, Environmental Science and Management graduate Jess was still able to achieve her academic dreams thanks to Open Foundation at The University of Newcastle.

“My mum has a PhD, so I really wanted to achieve academically.

“I had a rough start at high school. I dropped out, but eventually found out about the Open Foundation program offered at the University - which gave me a second chance to achieve my academic goals - and I haven’t looked back,” Jess said.

After completing Environmental Science as part of her Open Foundation course, it was a “no-brainer” for Jess to enrol in Environmental Science and Management with a major in Ecosystems and Biodiversity, especially when she already had such a passion for the topic.

“I’ve always been a huge animal nerd, and I’m very passionate about the environment. My grandparents were also volunteers with National Parks and avid bird watchers,” Jess said.

When reflecting on her degree, Jess highlighted the benefits of learning while surrounded by nature. “I love that we can have a lot of our practical classes right here on campus,” she said.

Jess also highlighted the many skills that she has been able to develop throughout her degree including technical skills, like using a microscope, but also more general skills like critical thinking.

“I have also been given the opportunity to make connections with a variety of people including industry professionals, PhD students conducting research, and volunteer organisations,” Jess said.

These connections with volunteer organisations allowed Jess to access several volunteer opportunities over the course of her degree. “I have worked with threatened species, completed paid conservation work and worked with organisations such as National Parks and the Hunter Wetlands Centre.

“I also worked at the University’s frog lab, focusing on the endangered green and golden bell-frog. I think these opportunities have been crucial to my study, they have allowed me to practically apply the skills I have learnt, as well as giving me access to exceptional role models,” she said.

Since completing her bachelor's degree this year, Jess has enrolled in Honours for 2022. When she finishes Honours, Jess hopes to work for her local council.

“Having a degree like this opens a lot of doors, both to environmental jobs and environmental adjacent jobs.

“I am currently working at a bug farm over the summer, where we breed parasitic wasps for environmentally friendly control of macadamia nut borer pests. I am also a volunteer committee member for my local Landcare group, where I am applying skills that I have learnt to directly benefit my local community and surrounding environment,” Jess said.

Jess has also submitted her own scientific paper for peer review based on data gathered during her undergraduate studies. This project is in collaboration with some of the fantastic scientists at the University of Newcastle.

Study a Bachelor of Environmental Science and Management

Jessica McGregor in the field

Jess McGregor

After completing Environmental Science as part of her Open Foundation course, it was a “no-brainer” for Jess to enrol in Environmental Science and Management with a major in Ecosystems and Biodiversity.

Having a degree like this opens a lot of doors, both to environmental jobs and environmental adjacent jobs.

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.