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From studying language to saving lives

Kate Wilson (BA French with Italian, 2002) is not your typical languages alumna. After four years at Warwick, she launched herself into the world of emergency care and hasn’t looked back. Now, she’s using her powers for good to help with the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.

Tell us about your time at Warwick.

My story might be a little different. My life goal since the age of about 14 was to be a paramedic, but back then you couldn’t go straight into it from school. I decided to go to university first and chose a languages degree as it’s something I’ve always been passionate about. As soon as I graduated, I went straight into the ambulance service, and that was almost 20 years ago. That being said, I’ve been in many situations where I’ve used the skills from my degree in communicating with patients. Academia is always valuable.

What are your fondest memories?

I have a lot of good memories to choose from. Alongside my degree I worked in the Students’ Union as a First-Aid Co-ordinator. I spent time studying in Italy, which was an unbelievable experience. In fact, it made such an impact, I ended up getting married in Florence in 2009. I also got the chance to live in France for my year abroad. I made friends that I keep in touch with now, two decades later. These are experiences I wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t studied at Warwick. I’d give anything to do it all over again.

"I've always been driven to help people."

What are you doing now?

I’ve always been driven to help people. In the past few years, I’ve helped support charities who provide humanitarian assistance to countries who desperately need medical supplies. When the news broke on the Ukraine crisis, I contacted a charity and asked if I could help to round up supplies. They said yes, and it went from there.
The support was overwhelming, and that’s how Medics to Medics came about. We’re a group of paramedics doing what we can to help friends and colleagues in Ukraine. I had enough support to organise a trip in March 2022, and we’re now planning trip number six. I couldn’t imagine being a paramedic with desperately sick patients and not having the equipment to treat them. It’s been tough, and meant a lot of personal sacrifice, but it’s work that matters.

What advice would you give to students considering a career as a paramedic?

I often call it a ‘Marmite career’ – you’ll either love it or hate it. If you’re considering it, then go for it. If you’re unsure, don’t be afraid to try something else first because education is never a waste of your time. My career now might have taken a diversion from the degree I studied, but there are skills I learned that I still use today, and I’m very glad I picked the path I did.