Former supermarket manager Graeme Guthrie knew the University of Sunderland would give him more than a sporting chance of carving out a new career.
For at the age of 27, Graeme decided to leave his hometown of Aberdeen and travel to Sunderland to start a degree in Sport and Exercise Development.
He said: "I knew I didn't want a career in retail and was really interested in sports and exercise, so I started to look around for degree courses that could help me change career.
"The course at Sunderland really appealed to me as it was such a rounded course that covered a lot more areas than some other degrees at different universities and I thought that would give me more opportunities for jobs after I graduated."
Graeme started at the University of Sunderland in 1998 and admits that although he struggled at first to get back into the routine of education, he was helped by the package of support offered by staff at the university.
He said: "There was a lot of help available if and when you needed it and I soon realised that having a break in my education was actually in many ways an advantage, as it made me more focused about exactly what I wanted to get out of the course and do after I graduated."
After graduating with a 1st Class Hons degree, Graeme was offered a temporary placement with the Primary Care Trust, which was later extended, before he joined Sunderland City Council in June 2004 as a Strategic Development Manager within Facilities Management.
Graeme said: "It's a pretty broad role covering everything from school meals, meals at home, commercial catering and healthy schools programmes and I really enjoy my job.
"It's fair to say that going to university steered me onto a completely different path and I learned so much more than just my coursework - particularly how to adapt to changing circumstances and challenges as they arise and that is something that I draw on in my job on a daily basis."
Graeme Guthrie, Strategic Development Manager, Sunderland City Council, BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Development