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Case Study

Alan Hooks

Hartlepool, UK

BSc (Hons) Sociology


Alan Hooks had always wanted to teach and when in 2015 he found his career as a taxi driver coming to an end, he decided this was the time to pursue his dream. He chose to study BSc (Hons) Sociology at the University of Sunderland after attending an Open Day and finding a warm and welcoming atmosphere. After overcoming a couple of hurdles during his studies he is now well on his way to achieving his future plan of becoming a Sociology lecturer.

Before university I had worked as a manager in McDonalds, and then as a taxi driver for 11 years. I had always wanted to teach and when I lost my driving licence on medical grounds in 2015 I decided this was the opportunity for me to change my career path. I came to an Open Day at the University of Sunderland and I really liked the atmosphere; the lecturers seemed very approachable and the current students who were assisting on the day were very helpful.

I enjoy the lectures but it’s the discussion in the seminars I really like about the course. It combines an analysis of historical theory with discussions about current events in the socio-political world. The online content is great too – lots of recommended reading and very clear lecture and seminar slides.

During my second year I was really struggling with my work/life balance. I was trying to juggle a full-time managerial post along with my studies and it caused me a lot of stress which resulted in me not finishing the second semester of my second year. The lecturers were all very helpful, and one tutor in particular took the time to meet up with me to offer advice and to outline my options. They also steered me towards Student Services who offered me some counselling sessions on City Campus. These were extremely helpful; soon I was feeling much happier and confident about things and I was able to resit the modules I had left unfinished the following year. I am now ready to begin my final undergraduate year in a much better frame of mind. I would also like to mention the level of support that my fellow students and I have received from the team during these recent, unique times. My wife is a student at a different university and has received nowhere near the amount of support I have from her lecturers. This regular contact with the University staff has been vital for me and other students I have spoken to.

I would absolutely recommend the University of Sunderland to other students. The facilities are modern, the lecturers are approachable and down-to-earth and are also extremely helpful with advice about assignments. The careers advice and support are also excellent; they are great with advice on CVs and job applications, providing you with skills to help you keep moving forwards once you’ve graduated. I would advise any prospective students to attend an Open Day and speak to as many lecturers and students as possible – gather as much information as you can.

The University of Sunderland has changed my life. The diversity of the students and lecturers has opened my eyes and really broadened my horizons, so much so that I am hoping to become a lecturer in Sociology in the not-too-distant future.”

Published 25 January 2021

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