Autumnwatchs Megan McCubbin was told she would never get a degree

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Chris Packham’s stepdaughter took a knock to her confidence after one of her teachers told her she’d never be able to achieve a degree in a science subject due to her learning condition. However, she proved the tutor wrong, and graduated back in 2018, at the age of 23. 

Megan’s dyslexia affects the way that she learns and processes information, meaning that she has to choose unconventional ways of retaining knowledge.

While the traditional classroom methods might not work for her, the determined TV host found a way that does, and she managed to conquer her weaknesses while following in her stepfather’s footsteps to achieve a career in TV.

She first opened up about her battle when she read a tweet asking: ” What were you told you’d never be able to achieve, but have since accomplished?”

The triumphant Animal Park star wrote back defiantly: “My teacher told me I would never get a degree in science due to my dyslexia. I graduate tomorrow.”

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The 27-year-old went on to join Ben Fogle and Kate Humble on Animal Park, applying her zoology knowledge to help her land the role.

She confided in a candid interview: “I struggled at school – I found it really, really difficult and was terrible at exams.”

“Complicated science” proved challenging for her, as she had to “find my own way to learn it”.

“After a class I might be able to relay the information and understand it, but there was no chance that I could retain it in the way that was asked of me. My brain definitely works very differently from other people’s,” she explained in the Radio Times.

Nowadays, she avoids memorising scripts for her TV role as she prefers not to present with a “head full of words”.

Instead, she ensures she has a solid understanding of the basic points first, and then expands on them in conversation.

“I think my dyslexia does change the way that I broadcast, because I try to speak about science in a way that I would have understood when I was younger,” she continued.

“I’m like that with my writing – I’m a very slow writer. So I try to strip back the unnecessary complexities.”

It was her stepfather Chris Packham who inspired her to overcome obstacles that had been seemingly insurmountable back in her secondary school days.

Although he split up with mum Jo, who is a nurse, when she was 12, his career has left an indelible impression on her – and thanks to him, she plucked up the courage to do a degree in Zoology.

It was also down to the influence of Chris that she had some unusual childhood pets.

Helping her to hone her passion for animals, she even had a praying mantis at home – and says she loves snakes to this day.

She is also inspired by the passion of the younger generation, including leaders like Greta Thunberg – and she hopes her wildlife shows can make an impression on them.

Her aim for her career is to be sure that animals in captivity are treated with respect, while being “fantastic ambassadors for their wild counterparts”.

She remains in constant contact with stepdad Chris who she works with on Autumnwatch.

Their relationship is so strong that he is even in the habit of asking her to pick up very unusual animal specimens for him to assist in his talks.

[He asked me to] collect some red squirrel poo for him… and then he also added [that] if I could get pine marten poo as well, that’d be great!” she laughed to the Radio Times.

Autumnwatch airs Tuesday at 8pm on BBC Two.

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