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Case Study

Emma Duffy

Sunderland, UK

BSc (Hons) Sociology with Integrated Foundation Year


Emma Duffy chose the University of Sunderland because it was local and she liked the facilities. She already has a job before graduating, working for Wearside Women in Need as a support worker, which she attributes to her degree.

I was working in a coffee shop as a waitress and although I loved it, I often thought about going to university as I wanted to have a career I was really passionate about. I chose the University of Sunderland because it was local and I liked the range of facilities – it is really good value for money.

At first I was worried about starting university from a financial point of view, with me being a lone parent and at the time on a zero-hour contract. However the loans and scholarships I received allowed me to study without sacrificing anything for myself and my daughter. I also received support from the University’s Wellbeing team when I had issues outside of university, making me feel able to carry on with my studies.

The staff were the best part of the course for me – they helped me through some of the hardest times of my life. They are respectful, helpful and brilliant at what they do, specialising in different research topics such as inequality, gender, sexuality and human rights. Their individual passions motivated me to do the best I could as a student. I was offered some amazing opportunities, for example I visited Kenya with other students and staff to volunteer for a charity called Team Kenya.

I would advise other students to really research and find out everything a university has to offer. The tuition fee is not just for your course – at Sunderland you have access to career advice, workshops, training programmes, health and wellbeing services, library services, academic awards, opportunity fund and more. Make the most of it, use the facilities and get the most out of your degree.

Due to my degree I have found a job I love – and I haven’t even graduated yet! I am currently working for Wearside Women in Need as a support worker, working with vulnerable women. I would definitely not have been given this opportunity if it were not for my degree – I was hired due to my research background.

If I could sum up my time at Sunderland I would say – inspiring, fun and just incredible!

Published 3 April 2020

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