A mum-of-two from Middlesbrough who thought she would never get the chance to go to university is on now course to become a chartered forensic psychologist.
Mandy Clarke, 47, was working in Tesco, knowing she wanted more from life, when she decided to enrol on an Access to Higher Education course at Middlesbrough College.
She had not studied for more than 25 years, but is now pursuing a passion for psychology and working in the field to help people with severe brain injuries.
Despite a lack of confidence in herself before the course, Mandy excelled at Middlesbrough College and went on to study Psychology and Counselling at Teesside University.
She explained: “I was working in Tesco but knew I wanted more for myself, and my interest in psychology was telling me to do something.
“At first I had very little confidence and had no idea how I’d handle university. When I first started the access course at Middlesbrough College I’d sit at the back and keep myself to myself.
“Now, at university, I answer questions in class, play a part in the discussion and can tackle the work with confidence and enthusiasm.”
Mandy is now about to start a master’s degree in forensic psychology – a path which she intends to follow into a traineeship and career in this important work.
The mum to two boys, 26 and 20, balanced the demands of full time work for a brain injury specialist KEYFORT, which provides 24/7 support for people with complex needs.
Using her specialist knowledge she helps patients with rehabilitation and has also done volunteer work at James Cook Hospital.
Carl Thom, business advisor at Middlesbrough College, was Mandy’s tutor while she studied on the access course.
He is an Access course graduate, having swapped a career in reprographics for study, before progressing on to Durham University and then into a role at Middlesbrough College.
Carl added: “It’s fantastic to see how far Mandy has come, and gratifying to see her pursue something that obviously interests her so much.
“We’ve kept in touch since she completed the Access course and I’ve seen a transformation from a person unsure of her abilities to someone ready to do whatever is needed to reach her goal.
“As a product of an access course I know how daunting it can be to go back into education after such a long time, but it can quite literally be life changing.”
Access to Higher Education courses are designed for those who have been out of education some time but may be looking for a career change or a step back into work after family commitments.
Students are equipped with research, essay-writing, and presentation skills that will prepare them for university life.
For more information about Access to Higher Education courses call 01642 333333.