Jeni Knight thought the chance of landing her dream job in forensic science had passed her by.
But after enrolling on an access science course at Telford College, the 43-year-old has now secured offers from both Keele and Chester universities – the final stepping stone to a career in criminology.
Jeni, from Ightfield near Whitchurch, won the Second Time Around prize at the 2019 Telford College Awards, and was also nominated for a prize at the Open College Network West Midlands Access to Higher Education Learner Awards.
She said: “I have dreamed for many years of working in forensics. Up until recently I thought my age, my two children and my lack of qualifications would restrict me.
“I saw an advert for a Telford College open day and decided to go along just to check it out. I was called a few weeks later for an interview, and was really excited when they not only accepted me onto the course, but were willing to help with my restrictions due to my health.”
Jeni is on medication for fibromyalgia which has side-effects including memory loss and lack of concentration, and also has to consider the needs of her 15-year-old who has Asperger syndrome.
She said: “When I started the access course, I felt scared, worried and found the whole process very daunting. I didn’t know if I would be able to manage a week on the course, let alone a year.
“I met with my tutor a few months before the course started and she reassured me and helped me to believe in myself.
“In the time I have been at the college I feel I have grown as a person and found a new confidence in myself. I have made new friends, and my tutor is a great support to me. I know I can talk to her and she will listen.
“I feel I now have a great relationship with all teachers, and am pleased with the marks I am getting on my assignments. I believe I can get better and better.”
Jeni said she had enjoyed the chance to meet so many students of different ages, from different backgrounds, during her time at Telford College.
“As a mature student with life skills and experience of the world, my prospects for achieving the goals I have set myself – educationally and in terms of future employment in my chosen field – are very good.
“I am looking forward immensely not only to the university experience and to the challenge of studying for my degree, but also to what may lie beyond in terms of putting that degree to good use.
“All aspects of criminology interest me – be it criminal psychology, forensic analysis investigation or the justice system generally.
“While I am currently drawn particularly to the issue of young offenders and methods of punishment and rehabilitation, I am also greatly interested in crime scene investigation, and know that this is where my area of specialisation lies.”
Telford College tutor Jay Patel said: “Jeni enrolled on the access science course with the intentions to study forensic science at university.
“She initially attended an open day, which allowed her to review the course, the challenges this may present and if it was the right pathway for her to progress onto her chosen career.
“Jeni has shown a strong commitment towards completing the course, despite facing many personal and health challenges.
“From the unsure learner who enrolled in September, Jeni has become much more confident and this has been reflected in her assignment work, which continues to improve and is now achieving merits and distinctions.
“She delivered a short presentation in front of her peers, to look at medical uses of parts of the EM Spectrum.
“She was filled with fear, but the presentation was excellent, clearly executed and professionally delivered. It received positive feedback, from everyone in the group, and consolidated what she could achieve.”