Attending university had always been a dream for me. I left school in 1985 at 16 without any qualifications and started work in the mines. My father was a colliery manager and my grandfather worked in the pits in Durham. At that time, university seemed impossible for me. I moved back to the North East in 1995 after leaving the pits, where I started working in retail. For the next 20 years, I worked in the mobile phone sector.
The course content and variety of teaching styles were the best aspects of the course. Some lectures were traditional while others used technology to enhance the learning. The assessment types, again, were traditional and modern, varying from written assignments and reports to the production of videos and presentations.
The University is a fantastic place to learn and the range and depth of subjects that the University offers is great. The facilities are second to none – the library at Sunderland is fantastic and they have a huge number of digital resources online. The teaching staff on the Childhood Studies team are all experts in their field and are supportive, approachable, and really help draw out the best from you during your studies.
Sunderland is located in an amazing part of the country and you benefit from a much lower cost of living than at most universities. The location offers you scope to explore the North East and Scotland which are such beautiful parts of the UK. There is easy access to major transport routes, including airports and ferry ports. Sunderland has such a lot to offer; away from study you can watch top-class football, rugby union and basketball in the local area.
Since graduating, I took a year out to work and gain experience in preparation for applying to study for a masters degree in Social Work. I worked for a local authority in a children's centre that provides residential care for children and young people with disabilities.
I left there and moved to a private company to work with teenagers in an EBD residential unit. The young people were placed in the unit from local authorities from all over the country. The company specialises in working with children who present high severity needs with challenging behaviour and complex care requirements.
The University of Sunderland helped me realise my dream; I'm the only one in my immediate family to have completed a degree and I was really pleased to achieve a First Class Honours. I was awarded the Ede and Ravenscroft Prize, Student Representative Award from the faculty and a Gold Award from Young Enterprise all in the final two months of studying. Sunderland gave me the confidence to push forward to the next level."
Published 16 February 2018