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Case Study

Rachel Lawson

Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

BSc (Hons) Sociology


Studying at the University of Sunderland has been truly life-changing for Rachel Lawson and has provided her with the opportunity to study in an academic environment at a time in her life when she believed that she was not suited for Higher Education. Soon after graduating, Rachel was employed as an intern with Sunderland City Council where she focuses exactly on what she wanted - a job focused on equalities.

The University of Sunderland was not only close to home for me, but I had also found it to be a university that wanted the best for its students, and were supportive and recognised the potential for success regardless of identity, background or previous educational experiences. I had attended a couple of open days there as I searched for the best university to study for my abilities, and the University of Sunderland became one of my top choices.

The BSc (Hons) Sociology course offered at the University of Sunderland was the most appealing to me, focusing on a variety of social problems that had influence and impact at a local, national and global level. It also covered a wide range of social theories, which was always the most interesting side of sociology for me during my time at sixth form. The lecturers came across as passionate and enthusiastic about the subject of sociology and wanted to share that with their students.

I had finished sixth form with only two A Levels, and on results day, I discovered I didn't have enough points to apply straight onto a university degree. Having visited the University of Sunderland for some of their open days, I had a positive impression of them and I believed there would be an opportunity for me to study closer to home, and also regain confidence in my own abilities in education. During Clearing, I made contact with the University and was directed to the programme leader of a new degree beginning in the September/October term of 2014.

I gained a place on the BSc (Hons) Social Sciences, which entailed a foundation year that would then transition into one of four Social Sciences degrees, including Sociology. Since the moment I applied for the course I’ve never looked back – I can absolutely attribute the success I have achieved to the University, graduating with First Class Honours and securing an internship with Sunderland City Council.

BSc (Hons) Social Sciences allowed me to learn about a variety of identities covering LGBTQ+, faith and belief, and ethnicity and disability, which has become incredibly useful in my current role. The commitment, passion and enthusiasm of the lecturers was consistent from the open days all the way to graduation.

I would absolutely recommend Sunderland to anyone who wants to expand their skills and knowledge of a subject that is of interest to them. I love the fact that the University offers a range of degree courses and various ways of entry to begin the journey of studying, regardless of the life experiences or age of an individual. All students receive the support they require, are treated fairly and with respect, and therefore are able to put in the effort to achieve their full potential and widen their career opportunities.

I would also encourage all students to make use of the variety of services available to you during your studying at the University of Sunderland. Without access to Sunderland Futures, the University’s careers service, I would never have found my internship so soon after graduating.

I am currently undertaking a 1-year internship at Sunderland City Council, working for the Sunderland Partnership as a Partnership Equality and Engagement Officer. I never expected to be in a job that I wanted so soon after graduating from the University. The community engagement aspect has introduced me to a variety of people, working with a range of partners, not-for-profit organisations and charities, and individuals who are involved with the communities of Sunderland, covering LGBTQ+, BME, Disability, Interfaith, and the Armed Forces. This has allowed me to learn more about the issues affecting different communities and even built on the knowledge that I gained during my time at the University.

I have also been able to build networks with new people and organisations, some of whom I have spend a day shadowing. One experience I have completed so far was a day shadowing with the Northumbria Police Community Engagement Team for Sunderland and South Tyneside.

My future aim is to keep working towards my career within equalities. Through my internship I have learned more about how equality within the workplace is measured, maintained and improved when necessary.

Studying at the University of Sunderland truly is life-changing, and has provided me with the opportunity to study in an academic environment at a time in my life when I believed that I was not suited for Higher Education."

Please note, this course is not recruiting for 2023/24.

Published 31 May 2019

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