Colette Simpson was working in the hospitality industry as an assistant manager before she decided to take the leap and return to studying for a change in career. Colette had never been to university before, and had worked in hospitality since leaving sixth form.
While on a gap year teaching in India and Nepal, Colette felt she wanted to do something more meaningful with her career, and, coupled with personal experiences, decided her preferred route would be counselling.
Collette joined Newman University as a mature student, and studied a counselling foundation degree, which enabled her to continue working, and support her studies.
Colette felt the course at Newman University was perfect for her, as they not only looked at your qualifications, but considered you as a person, and how you would fit onto the course. Colette explains: ‘I was nervous to return to university as a mature student, as I was 27, and it had been nine years since I was last in education, however, my counselling course had a mix of ages and people from different backgrounds, which was great. The atmosphere at Newman is brilliant; you are taken seriously, and everyone is seen as important.’
Colette experienced some difficulties at home, with various members of the family falling ill and requiring her care, yet she felt Newman was able to offer her the support she needed to continue with her studies. Colette juggled working 30 hours a week, attending lectures, going on placement, and caring for her family, to achieve her Foundation Degree in Counselling.
‘The foundation degree prepares you in a rounded way; it has an academic and vocational balance, and is in the welcoming environment of Newman.’
Since graduating from Newman University, Colette has returned, but this time as part of the staff team at Newman Health & Wellbeing, as the receptionist for the counselling service. Colette admits to loving the university so much that she could see herself working there, and that is exactly what she did.
Colette hopes to progress into counselling roles at the university, and continue to develop her skills along the way.
When asked what advice she would give to students, Colette said: ‘Take your time; going to university at 18 years old isn’t for everyone. I’m glad I took my time to choose the right course for me.’
Jayson completed his Sport and Education Studies BA (Hons) in 2017, gaining a first class honours.
Jayson worked for the British Army for seven years before leaving in 2009 to work for the local government in IT project management. It didn’t take long for Jayson to realise this wasn’t the path he wanted to follow, and he left the job to begin caring for his grandparents and mother. It was then that Jayson decided to follow his dream of becoming a physical education teacher, and enrolled onto an access to higher education (HE) course at Bournville College.
After completing the course, Jayson began his sport and education studies course at Newman. Jayson had to manage his time well, as he was not only studying, but was a carer for his family throughout his studies. Jayson had to deal with the loss of his grandparents and continue caring for his mother, while focusing on his degree.
Jayson explains: ‘Student Support were absolutely amazing. After my first meeting with staff in there, I was able to open up and ask for help whenever I needed it, and they knew exactly how to help. They assisted with mitigating circumstances, and without all of this, I would not have been able to complete my studies. It put me on an even keel with my peers, who were a lot younger, and did not have the issues that I had at home.’
Jayson completed a placement in his second year with The Albion Foundation, and was offered a full-time contract immediately. Jayson comments: ‘Newman opened my eyes to a lot of things, and I realised that PE teaching was not for me, as I could relate to those who struggle in school more. I now work with young people with an array of behavioural issues, mental health issues, and those who are on the verge of expulsion from school.
Being at Newman was an amazing experience. It gave me drive and determination to succeed, as a lot of help was thrown my way. I used my studies as a means to escape certain aspects of my outside life, and without Newman and the support that I received, I do not feel that I would have coped like I did.’
Jayson is now completing his master’s degree in integrative child psychotherapy at Newman University, and hopes to continue working with children and young adolescents with emotional, behavioural, and mental health conditions that prevent young people from achieving their dreams.