‘I never imagined higher education would be a possibility for me…’

Published: September 1, 2020

Telford’s Alisa Stretton never imagined that higher education would be possible for her – but now she’s got the learning bug!

The 36-year-old, from Stirchley, initially contacted Telford College to discuss her options, and it has ended up setting her on a whole new career journey.

“I had just come out of an abusive relationship where I was told I would never achieve anything in life – and as a single mother of three, I wanted to prove to him, and to myself, that I was not worthless.

“Most of all, I wanted to show my children that studying was a good thing and to achieve the career path that you wanted, you need to put in the hard work.”

Alisa was already working as a teaching assistant in a special needs school – a job that she loved – but she wanted to do more, and had a real passion for helping disadvantaged children and their families.

“Telford College was local to where I lived, which was great as I still needed to work and needed to be local for childcare. So I enquired about possible courses, and I never imaged that higher education would be a possibility as I’d been out of studying for so long, but how wrong I was!

“Learner manager for higher education, Caroline Bastow, was fantastic, and after talking through all the options, I decided to opt for the health and social care foundation degree.

“From that day, right up until the last day at college, the support I received was amazing, and any questions I had were answered.”

Alisa remembers being very nervous on her first day, worrying that she may not be good enough or that no-one would like her, but the minute she walked into class she said her worries faded and she felt so welcome – as if she had been there for months.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the health and social care foundation degree – the tutors were amazing, giving me all the support I needed and constant encouragement along the way.

“Nothing was ever too much trouble. I made lifelong friends during my time at Telford College. We all went on a journey together and came out the other end as stronger and more knowledgeable people.”

Alisa is not entirely sure what she wants to do in her career as the foundation degree has opened up so many doors.

She is now doing a top-up year at the University of Wolverhampton in health studies and social care before either a masters in social work, or moving into probation work with young offenders.

She said: “I highly recommend Telford College where the possibilities are endless and the support is incredible. I began as a person that didn’t believe in herself with very little confidence in my own abilities, and became a confident person that did do it!”

Caroline Bastow, learner manager for higher education, said: “Like so many, Alisa wasn’t aware that her existing qualifications would allow her to start a higher education course, but we were able to help her make the right decision about what route to take.

“We really understand that coming on to higher level courses can be daunting, whether you’re someone who has been out of education for a while, or someone who is taking the leap from Level 3, so we offer a welcoming and inclusive learning environment.”