I dropped out of university in 1978. For the next 20 years I enjoyed a career as a professional caterer, owned a restaurant and lived in Holland but I knew I needed to improve my academics to change direction in the future. My career had to change as I had a family so I began to include teaching as part of my catering roles and moved into a role more aligned with education.
I started my degree with the OU in 2009 when I was working for Aimhigher (a government funded programme promoting Higher Education) and at the time I had an NVQ4 but not a degree. Studying for a degree was offered to me as part of my Continuous Professional Development (CPD) and as a way of understand studying at HE level thus enabling me to empathise with the groups I was working with. During the 6 years of my study I have been challenged by work circumstances, bereavements and family life. Aimhigher ceased to exist and I was made redundant but as I had studied Volunteering and Psychology modules as part of my degree I managed to secure a role with The National Trust as a Volunteer & Community Involvement Officer. Unfortunately I was made redundant again but found my current positon as a Volunteer Development Coordinator for the Canal & River Trust.
There is no doubt in my mind that my study has been very relevant to working with volunteers and that putting theory into practice and developing my academic skills has enhanced my work ethic and made me a more effective and efficient employee.
There have been times when I thought about stopping study but now that I’ve finished I am so glad that I didn’t give up. It’s been an amazing journey even though it has meant that I haven’t had a weekend free of study from October to June for 6 years, so that’s something to look forward to!
Thirty-seven years since I started I have obtained my degree and proved to myself I could do it!
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