Fionnuala O’Neill

Fionn O’Neill

What made you want to apply to your course and to Leeds?

I took a year out after school to work and think about what university and programme suited me best, and while Belfast, where I am from is amazing, I felt like I needed something new with different opportunities and the chance to meet new people. Leeds felt like the perfect choice, it is a small city with a large student population, so it is really the best of both worlds. Social media really helped me to stay informed and gain advice and options on what to look for in a course and what is offered.

The Sustainable Fashion course was exactly what I was looking for, as it is a relatively new course it is constantly on the front line of research and innovation meaning you learn alongside the development of sustainable fashion as an industry. There are also very few courses offered within such a specialised are of study that gives so much opportunity for employment after university. 

What aspects of the course do you enjoy the most? 

Learning from lecturers that are involved in leading research and innovation within sustainable fashion gives such valuable insight into what the future will look like and informs my studies beyond what I could have expected. 

The practical laboratory research side of the course adds an interesting element of being able to gain experience first-hand, developing the skills to assess the sustainability of the garment through testing furthers my understanding of why it is so important. As well as developing skills that can be applied in future career paths.

What is it that makes you passionate about your area of study?

Sustainable fashion has such a dynamic nature with constant innovation and evolution of information and practices. The course allows me to have a wide scope of career prospects from sustainable design to policymaking, showing its wide-reaching impact. My passion for sustainable fashion comes from the urgent need to combat climate change due to the huge impacts that the fashion industry brings socially and environmentally. Sustainable fashion encourages creativity while contributing to circular fashion and more environmentally friendly practices. 

What other activities are available for students to take part in outside of their studies and which ones have you tried out yourself? 

Everyone says you should join a club or society and they’re right! I have been part of The Right to Walk society for three years and it has been such an amazing way to meet likeminded people and be part of something at university. While studying is so important so is having fun, being part of a society can help you stay connected to people. Different societies offer different things from crafting, staying fit and learning a new skill, there is something for everyone. 

How do you think the skills and knowledge you’ve developed at Leeds will help with your career plans?

The University are so helpful at helping us realise and understand how skills can be applied in different areas as well as our future career. Everything we do in terms of lectures and coursework allows us to build transferable skills such as public presenting, critical analysis and research. These skills allow us to go into our career prepared for whatever they throw at us. 

The knowledge gained through the course is invaluable, the wide scope of modules we take allows us to find out our areas of interest and research further into them. 

What advice would you give to incoming students who are about to start their own university journey?

Be optimistic is the main thing, I know that it is daunting to move to a new city where you might not know anyone, but believing in yourself and knowing that you have made friends and settled into a new place before and you can do it again.

The studying side of things can feel overwhelming at first but just remember you have earned your place to be here and there are people who you can reach out to for support and advice.