For Dawn Morgan, returning to education at Telford College has proved to be a complete turning point in her life.
Dawn was 38 when she enrolled on an Access to Higher Education course at Telford College – now 43, she has graduated with a first class degree and is starting a PhD in forensics.
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She said: “I went back into education to get my GCSEs as I left school without them, and due to my lack of formal education, I was doing jobs that I really didn’t want to do – but I had a family so having a job was better than no job.
“One day, University of Wolverhampton had a display so I picked up a prospectus and came across forensic science. I hadn’t considered that as a career before but it made me think . . . I could be Abby from NCIS!”
The course requirements showed that Dawn, from Woodside in Telford, needed to complete an Access course if she wanted to progress to university, so she enrolled at Telford College.
“There wasn’t anything about the course that I didn’t enjoy – we had a really good cohort and we all helped each other.
“My tutors, Jay Patel and Simon Hoyle, were excellent: not just in the way they explained the course content, but in the way they encouraged us to do the best we could.”
Dawn said the transition from college to university was made easier thanks to the Access course, as it had prepared her well.
“The writing of lab reports, essays and exams that you sit during the course mimics what you do at university, so I was already prepared for that, and the forensic course at Wolverhampton has an amazing teaching associate who is there to help and guide you. It has been invaluable over the four years that I did my course.
“I also had some incredible lecturers who not only taught me that it’s good to question things, but that it’s OK not to know everything. It also sparked my interest in entomology that I never knew I had.”
Dawn is now hoping to study for her doctorate and then go into teaching either at university level or as an Access tutor.
“For anyone considering an Access course, I’d say just do it! Life is too short for what ifs, so don’t let age be a barrier that stops you going after what you want.”
Telford College tutor Jay Patel said: “The Access courses provide an alternative path for learners who want to go to university who do not hold the usual qualifications.
“Dawn studied on the science pathway with units in human biology, physics and chemistry, with many sessions involving practical work which helps to embed understanding and develops essential skills.
“She was always determined to achieve her goal of going to university and that was reflected in her work ethic – her positive attitude saw her develop confidence and understanding.