Mature student Sharon Jagger reckons there could now be a healthcare job out there with her name on it, after enjoying ‘learning how to learn again’ at Telford College
Sharon, 58, initially signed up for an Access to Higher Education course at the college, but has since moved onto a Foundation Degree programme in health and social care.
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She says she has thrived in the ‘comfortable atmosphere and calm, stress-free environment’ at the college.
Although she has a legal qualification, Sharon now spends most of her time as a community activist and volunteer in and around her home town of Cannock in Staffordshire.
She is a town councillor, who has helped to organise events including festivals, markets, and
foodbanks, as well as volunteering for her local library, Healthwatch Staffordshire, and St John Ambulance.
She is also a local Dementia Friends champion, and chair of a local group of community volunteers which takes on litter picking and gardening jobs.
“I am passionate about enabling and empowering individuals to challenge injustices, but have a progressive illness causing fatigue and mobility issues,” she said.
“I opted for full-time study as a way to maintain a purpose for myself and keep my brain active; I did not consider that I might have employment opportunities, but now feel that perhaps there may be a job out there with my name on it!
“Who knows what the future holds? I know for sure that with a Foundation Degree under my belt I will be well equipped for the challenge.”
Sharon was originally encouraged by a friend to visit an open event at Telford College to find out about the Access to Higher Education programme.
She said: “I met with tutors and student ambassadors and it appealed to me because it felt like one big relaxed family. I think a comfortable atmosphere and calm stress-free environment is essential for study; the college provided that.
“I am a mature student who waited over 30 years before going back into a classroom, and would strongly recommend the Access to Higher Education course if you’ve not been in a studying situation for a while.
“You don’t actually realise it at the time, but Access to Higher Education is helping you to ‘learn how to learn again. Skills such as essay-writing, research and time-management have all proved invaluable to me.
“Confidence in my own abilities has definitely grown. The peer support from my classmates and encouragement from tutors has led to a realisation that I have capabilities I was not aware of before.”
She said it was a ‘testament to the fantastic support from tutors’ that she had been able to continue her studies throughout the Covid-19 lockdown, completing her assignment entirely at home.
“Although that has been lonely and tough, I thank the tutors for their input on Teams, as it has been very beneficial to be ‘in class’ online. I have really missed the interaction of the classroom, though.”
Caroline Bastow, learner manager for higher education and access at Telford College, said: “Sharon has been on a remarkable journey with us, and achieved amazing results.
“She is a proper pillar of her community, and we are delighted to have been able to help her open up a whole new world of career possibilities.”
Telford College currently offers Access to Higher Education courses in specialist areas such as social science, science, and health professionals.
Caroline said: “Our Access to Higher Education course in social science is perfect for anyone who is looking to follow in Sharon’s footsteps and build a career working in the community.”
The college is now running a ‘virtual’ open event, where Caroline and the rest of the team are providing more information about new courses. Explore the campus here.