I was a late starter to the academic world. I was working as a care and support worker when I decided, at the age of 41, to enrol on a foundation degree course with the University of Sunderland. After I graduated from BSc (Hons) Health and Social Care I progressed onto the PCET and I am now working as a teacher in an FE college, teaching Health and Social Care.
The social sciences department at Sunderland is a great place to study, it’s so supportive. The course is great – even though it’s a full time course the on-campus classroom time takes place on one day, which has enabled me to continue to work full-time. The tutors are amazing, so knowledgeable and so passionate about their field of study that it’s infectious. The atmosphere in lectures and seminars is relaxed and friendly, and the people I am studying with are some of the nicest people I’ve met.
After completing my PCET in 2014, I started work as a full-time teacher in the college where I carried out my placement. After teaching for a few years I was looking for an opportunity to extend my knowledge around social theory, policy and societal issues, to improve my teaching practice, so I started MSc Inequality and Society. I have been able to take all the things I have learned from the course and pass the knowledge onto my college students. They are gaining knowledge of the most up-to-date, relevant theories and issues, a deeper understanding of research processes and, from discussing my own experience of study with them, a clearer idea of what their future university experience will be. I have found that me being a teacher who is also a student encourages a different rapport with them, which is proving to be a really rewarding experience.
The work is challenging at times, and joining the course is definitely a big commitment, but learning new things in a relaxed and supportive environment is something that I will always be happy that I chose to do.
The most important piece of advice I could give to another student would be to commit to the course you are studying. Do the reading, and put in the time. It is so worth it. I have studied three different courses here as a mature student, and cannot report a single negative experience. My age has never been a barrier, and I have never been made to feel I am too old for school!
I am looking forward to seeing out the remainder of this course, and am considering my next steps. I think I see a PhD in the not-too-distant future.”
Published 19 February 2020