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International Women’s Day – Meet our inspirational students!

“You are smart, capable, and strong. Repeat that to yourself as many times as you need to per day until you believe it.” 

 

Erin, 28, from Bermuda is studying for an MBA. She and her business partner have opened their own sports centre in Bermuda hosting the first full-sized boxing ring in the country!

Tell us a bit about yourself: Things I love: writing, long distance charity walks, my Jack Russell terrier Jada, virtually all animals, tea, traveling to places I don’t speak the language, and learning. Things I dislike: cooking, butterflies, the sound of forks on teeth and being late. 

Why did you decide to open a sports centre? My business partner and I had been discussing it for a few years before it all started to come together. We recognized that Bermuda was missing a central, family-friendly, location for practitioners of different martial arts & boxing styles to train. Our goal was to open a purpose-built facility that would be high-quality, affordable, and inclusive. So far, so good!

Have you always been interested in sport? I struggled a lot in sports while I was in school as I wasn’t particularly coordinated or fast. However, I started going to the gym on a whim when I was twenty-one, and the rest is history! Unfortunately though, I have an implanted neuromodulator, so no contact sports for me. I love the atmosphere of the sports centre though, and enjoy cheering on our athletes when they compete.

Why did you pick your course and how are you finding it? At the time it seemed to make the most sense as I knew that ultimately I’d like to own a number of businesses and work for myself. The course itself was great, I took something valuable away from every module. I’m currently in the final stages of writing my dissertation, which is due next month. 

How are you planning on using your course once you have finished? I’m happy to say that I’m already using it. I have just started my new role of Senior Project Analyst for the Bermuda Monetary Authority full-time. This course was absolutely instrumental in my being prepared for this job. 

What would you say to someone thinking about taking your course? If you’re waiting for the right time, it’s now. It’s an incredibly practical course and you will be able to apply the things you learn right away. There will never be a “perfect time” – so today is as good as any. That said, DO NOT over-commit. Take the courses at your own pace. I made that mistake and it made things much, much, much harder than they needed to be.  Build a small circle of people that you can trust have your best interests at heart. My support system kept me going in the moments I wanted to just give up. 

Who inspires you and who would you like to inspire? It’s hard to choose just one person, so if I had to narrow it down to two would be my sister, Camily and my late therapist Charlotte. Cam for having the courage to follow her passions when choosing her career, and Charlotte for giving me the tools to persevere even when things seem impossibly hard. I’d be honored to inspire a young person who is being bullied at school because not so long ago, that was me. I wore big round glasses, got called “loser,” “weirdo,” (and other things I can’t say here) and I almost always got picked last for the team. I used to feel physically ill dreading school because I hated being picked on so much.  However, the underdog doesn’t always stay there. Being used to rejection allowed me to take risks that have paid off for me professionally. 

What would be your message to inspire other females on International Women’s Day? My personal mantra – Kurt Vonnegut said “we are what we imagine ourselves to be.” You are smart, capable, and strong. Repeat that to yourself as many times as you need to per day until you believe it. 

 

“Take a breath and go for it, don’t be disheartened or held back by age or self-doubt.”

 

Michelle, 45, from Mistley, England is studying CertCE Psychology and runs her own business.

Tell us a bit about yourself: I left school at 16 with GCSEs and went straight onto an apprenticeship. I was a dental nurse for 16 years. 13 years ago, my husband (who is an ex London Fireman) and I started up our own business Franklins Training Services. We started off  delivering fire safety training and we now employ and work with a team of over 20 staff and deliver training to over 400 clients. We have our own offices in Elmstead Market and I am really proud of what we have achieved. I have 2 boys who are now 26 and 23 years old who work in the business, as well as 2 grown-up step children who between them have given us 6 grandchildren. I love spending time with my family and friends, I go horse riding when I have the time and I am studying psychology. I read a lot and if it’s not a murder mystery/thriller then it’s a book on psychology.

Why did you pick your course and how are you finding it? I have always been fascinated by psychology and hopefully when I have completed my CertCE in Psychology I will be accepted to go onto do my BSc Honours in Psychology with the University of Essex Online. I needed an online course as running the business does take up a lot of my time. I looked into the different options and their course was well explained and the information given by the team  was very straight forward and easy to understand. The course is amazing, it isn’t easy and you need to be focused and make time to read the literature and complete your modules but it has ignited a passion for learning that I had forgotten I had. It is important that you learn how to manage your time and ensure you make the most of any study time you get. The course is well structured and the online forum is easy to use. There is a lot of ongoing support so if you are unsure of something you can always contact either your student support team or your tutor. You are never made to feel that any question is silly, being new to study and being older I was worried that I would look daft and ask silly questions but not once have any of the team made me feel that way.

How are you planning on using your course once you have finished? I would like to eventually work in psychodynamics and be able to have my own business offering this service to businesses and individuals.

What would you say to someone thinking about taking your course? Do it! Don’t hesitate, just take a breath and complete the form….. you will not regret it. There is so much support from the team at the University of Essex Online. They are on hand all the way through the process of applying for your course, the funding options available and they support you as you go along. I was hesitant and put off doing this for years as I doubted my ability and didn’t feel confident enough but now I wish I had taken the leap years ago. The course is well structured and tutors are available to assist you as you move through the different modules. For me at 45 who doubted that my brain was still capable of learning it really has given me a sense of purpose and shown me that it doesn’t matter how old you are if you want to learn a new skill or a new subject it is never too late.

Who inspires you and who would you like to inspire? So many people inspire me. My husband as he is so supportive and he encourages me to be the person I want to be and who never complains when I wave yet another essay under his nose and ask him to proofread it for me. My children who tell me how proud they are every time I complete another module. My dad who died suddenly 3 years ago who always ‘just got on with it’ and taught me to never be afraid to speak your mind and go for what you believe in. My mother in law who at the grand age of 91 still has a better social life than people half her age (me included). She has lived through being evacuated in the war, bought up 3 children on her own and is probably one of the brightest and intelligent woman I know. Only last month she completed a tour of Arsenal Football Club’s stadium. She is the original definition of an independent woman! Her zest for life is inspiring. The singer Debbie Harry who at the grand age of 72 can still command a stage. Margaret Thatcher (controversial, I know) but what a woman. Truly a woman living and working in a mans’ world. Emmeline Pankhurst who fought for the rights that we take for granted today. Marie Curie who said “Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood” – very apt when studying psychology. My stepdaughter Jenny who went back to studying at the age of 34 and is now a qualified midwife – a real example of what you can achieve by going back to studying. I would like to inspire anyone who is contemplating further education and doubts themselves because of their age or standard of education or maybe they have been at home raising a family and now want to do something for themselves. Do not make age an excuse or a barrier to going back to studying.

What would be your message to inspire other females on International Women’s Day? Stand up and be counted! Take a breath and go for it, don’t be disheartened or held back by age or self-doubt. You can achieve anything you want to but you have to be brave enough to take that first step, you will not regret it. Studying again at my age has been empowering. Please do not be held back by imagined restraints….DO IT!

 

“It is never too late to pursue your dream. My grandchildren are already waiting to attend my graduation.

 

Grace, 69, from Basingstoke, England is studying BA (Hons) Business and Management. She is Grandmother and mother who is doing her degree to run her own business and inspire her grandchildren.

Tell us a bit about yourself: I am originally from Nigeria but I have lived in the UK for about 30 years and it has more or less become a second home. I retired in 2009 as a care manager in a mental health home setting. I would like to categorise cooking and entertainment as my hobby because I take to them easily and I am known by it everywhere I go. Sometimes I wonder why I have never thought of making it money making business. My main interest now is to be there for my children, help them out when they need me to help with their kids.

Why did you pick your course and how are you finding it? It has always been my desire to do a degree course to back me up when I start my mental health care home after retirement. And Business and Management will lead me to the right direction. I am finding the course very useful and I am really gathering a lot of useful information to see me through my future business plan. I enjoy the course content and the support I get from my Student Adviser and my tutors. These have made my study easy and achievable by constant encouragement each time I feel like giving up.

How are you planning on using your course once you have finished? I plan to apply the knowledge I have gained to my business plan.

What would you say to someone thinking about taking your course? I would say take it a step at a time and never give up.

Who inspires you and who would you like to inspire? My siblings and my children. Some of them are professors and since my children are all grown, and I do not have to think of paying school fees again, I felt it was time to take care of myself too. I am inspiring people even outside my family already. They believe if at my age I am doing a degree, then why not. Of course, my grandchildren are already waiting to attend my graduation. So, even if I want to stop now, I cannot because I would not want to disappoint them. Two of my grandchildren are in college and they too are working hard to see that they excel so I can attend their graduation. So, it is like inspiring each other.

What would be your message to inspire other females on International Women’s Day? I would say to them, it is never too late to pursue your dream.

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