I was a late starter to the academic world. I was working as a care and support worker when I decided, at the age of 41, to enrol onto a foundation degree course with the University of Sunderland. After I graduated from the BSc (Hons) Health and Social Care, I progressed onto the PGCE PCET and I am now working as a teacher in a Further Education college, teaching Health and Social Care.
The Social Sciences department at Sunderland is a great place to study; it’s so supportive. The course is great – even though it’s a full-time course, the on-campus classroom time takes place on one day, which has enabled me to continue to work full-time. The tutors are amazing, so knowledgeable and so passionate about their field of study that it’s infectious. The atmosphere in lectures and seminars is relaxed and friendly, and the people I'm studying with are some of the nicest people I’ve met.
After completing my PCET, I started work as a full-time teacher in the college where I carried out my placement. After teaching for a few years, I was looking for an opportunity to extend my knowledge around social theory, policy and societal issues to improve my teaching practice, so I started on the MSc Inequality and Society course. I have been able to take all the things I learned on the course and pass the knowledge onto my college students. They are gaining knowledge of the most up-to-date, relevant theories and issues, a deeper understanding of research processes and, from discussing my own experience of study with them, a clearer idea of what their future university experience will be. I have found that me being a teacher who is also a student encourages a different rapport with them, which is proving to be a really rewarding experience.
The work is challenging at times, and joining the course is definitely a big commitment, but learning new things in a relaxed and supportive environment is something that I will always be happy that I chose to do.
The most important piece of advice I could give to another student would be to commit to the course you're studying. Do the reading and put in the time because it is so worth it. I have studied three different courses here as a mature student, and cannot report a single negative experience. My age has never been a barrier and I have never been made to feel I am too old for school!
I am looking forward to seeing out the remainder of this course and am considering my next steps. I think I see a PhD in the not-too-distant future.”
Published 19 February 2020