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Single Parent Turns Her Life Around with Access to HE Diploma

4 February 2020

Thirtyfour year-old Vanessa McNulty studied a one year Level 3 Access to HE Diploma in Social Sciences at Kirklees College, in Huddersfield in September 2013.


As a single parent, who was made redundant from a brewing company that she loved, Vanessa felt that she wanted a fresh start and the chance to turn her life around. Speaking of the situation that she was in, she said:


“Redundancy meant changes, challenges and risks that I knew would have a dramatic impact on my life as a single parent. I realised that to have a higher level of job security and to gain access into careers that interested me, I would need to have a degree.


“Whilst I was not certain about which career I wanted to have or would be most suited to me, I viewed my situation as an opportunity to improve my skills and options. So, I took the risk and headed back into education!”


Having left school in 2001, re-entering education was a huge shock to Vanessa and her anxiety levels were initially high. With hard work and determination, however, things significantly changed for Vanessa and her efforts successfully paid off.


“This was my first essay in 12 years and I passed with a distinction. As I tackled each assignment, my confidence grew. I was fully engrossed and thrived in the educational setting. The support from the tutors on the course and staff around the college was fantastic.


“I enjoyed the unique teaching methods that tutors used to demonstrate difficult topics such as mental health and sociology theories and perspectives. The workload was demanding and varied but it taught me to manage my time more effectively and to be organised.


“Overall, the Certa Access to HE course prepared me well for the demands of university-level study and equipped me with skills that were transferrable and vital when undertaking more advanced study,” Vanessa continued.


It was during the final year of her undergraduate degree that Vanessa realised how transformational education had been to her – from the first step of signing up for the Certa Access to HE course to completing her degree with a first-class BSc in Health and Community Development.


Her passion for education was something that she wanted to share and to encourage others to experience. Vanessa subsequently decided to pursue her next step – to become a teacher in higher education and is now in a “fantastic place”, employed as a Graduate Teaching Assistant at the University of Huddersfield.