Alumni Spotlight: Agnieszka Pieterse

A Lincoln graduate who barely spoke a word of English when she moved to the UK from her native Poland seven years ago has now been recognised as one of the country’s top-achieving Biomedical Science students.

Agnieszka Pieterse, who graduated with a First Class from the University of Lincoln’s BSc(Hons) Applied Biomedical Science programme in September, has been awarded the Institute of Biomedical Science President’s Prize.

Aga, as she is known for short, is now working as a biomedical scientist at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn, specialising in haematology and transfusion.

Her inspirational journey began in summer 2004 when she moved to England from her home city of Szczecin, Poland, to join a friend working in a salad packing factory in Ely. There she met South African Gert Pieterse, who would become her husband.

When she and Gert were made redundant in 2006 they moved to Lincolnshire to take up jobs in another factory in Bourne, where her husband still works, and the couple bought a house in Lincoln.

Soon afterwards Aga, who had studied medical physics in Poland and had once hoped to attend university in Germany, decided the time was right to return to her studies. She applied and was accepted onto the BSc(Hons) Applied Biomedical Science degree at the University of Lincoln. She admitted the return to academia had been ‘a big learning curve’.

Aga said: “It was a challenge to study and write in English and studying biomedical science was like learning a third language. During my medical physics studies in Poland, I already struggled at writing science language in Polish when doing assignments or reports. My greatest challenge and achievement was to overcome this while not studying in my first language.”

The 28-year-old, who is now fluent in English and Afrikaans, clearly has not been put off academia by such challenges - she is planning to study for a Masters degree.

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