Before studying at Sunderland I was working as a support worker in Gateshead. I’d worked in the social care sector for quite some time, and in 2006 I applied to do a social work degree at another university. I studied for two years and failed a module, which meant I had to repeat a year. At that point, I think I had become disillusioned with education; my confidence had been knocked. So, going back to university was, for me, about finishing something I had started years earlier.
A friend of mine was already studying at Sunderland and told me that he was really enjoying it and that it was a very chilled atmosphere. This friend was a mature student, around my own age, which made me feel comfortable as I was a little bit nervous about going back to university at the age of 43. I found Sunderland more relaxed and much more suited to my style of learning. I went on to get my undergraduate degree, progress onto a masters degree and then complete a postgraduate teaching qualification.
The best part about studying at Sunderland was the people I met and the friendships I made. Before, I tended to gravitate towards a certain type of person, normally male people my own age. During my time at Sunderland, I formed close friendships with people from all over the world, of all ages. I feel it really developed my social understanding of a multicultural society.
I would definitely recommend the University of Sunderland as a place to study as the advice and support is second to none. I have had several interactions with the careers advice team and they have bent over backwards to help in any way they can. Since finishing my studies I have been lucky enough to work as a Health and Social Care lecturer. I currently work for Gateshead Council as part of the local authority Low Incidence team, which involves preparing materials for students with vision and hearing impairment. At the moment I’m learning Braille, which is really interesting. I also help run seminars on addiction with final year student doctors, which I started doing while studying. In the future, I’d like to do a PhD and of course, I’d love to do it at Sunderland if I could.
My advice to any prospective students is to go into your studies with an open mind. Believe one hundred percent in what you are doing and aim high, because it is possible to get wherever it is you want to go. Also, if you need help or advice, just ask, and someone will point you in the right direction.
I would say that you get out of the experience what you put into it. You will have the time of your life.”
Published 1 September 2020