A Ballynahinch mother of four who graduated this summer with a first in BSc in Social Policy and Sociology from Queen’s University Belfast is keen to encourage other adult learners to return to education and follow in her footsteps at South Eastern Regional College (SERC).
Suzanne (Suzy) Agnew (43), from Ballynahinch said, “The first step is deciding that you want to do something for yourself and then take one step at a time.”
She said, “I left school after my GCSEs, and went to college to do a sports related course. However, college wasn’t for me, so I left after the first year and I went out to work. I had all kinds of jobs including admin, bar work and retail and finally ended up as Assistant Manager of Peacocks here in Ballynahinch. I was made redundant after the store’s closure and stayed at home full-time from then on to look after my children.
“I found out about the opportunities of returning to education when a lecturer from SERC, Ellie Bradley, came along to a Home Start session I was attending in the town and gave a talk on Restart and Access at the College. I can honestly say this was the start of building my confidence. For so long I was ‘just a mum’ and didn’t feel valued. So, my first step was enrolling on the Restart course – since I hadn’t studied anything for a long time. After that, I progressed to the Access Level 3 Diploma in Foundation Studies which gave me choices for higher education and the possibility of university. I applied for the BSc in Social Policy and Sociology at QUB and graduated this summer.”
Suzy is now preparing to start a Master’s in Children’s Rights at Queen’s University Belfast. She said, “It has taken six years to get to where I am, but the time has just flown by and, when I look back, it was all about taking one step at a time. There is so much support available when you are an adult returner. Everyone, both at SERC and at uni, wants to you to do well and if you need help, you just ask.”
She concluded “My children are so proud of me and everything I have achieved, and coming back into education has given me so much confidence. For anyone else thinking about coming back to restart their education, I’d say you have nothing to lose but everything to gain. Find out what you can do and go for it.”
Come along to SERC’s Restart and Access Open Day at Newcastle Campus on Wednesday 16 August between 10.00am-2.00pm or at Ballynahinch Campus on Friday 18 August 10.00am – 2.00pm. Staff will be on hand to provide information, advice and guidance on Restart Education and Access to Higher Education courses, Student Finance, Careers Service, Little SERC – our onsite creche at Newcastle Campus – and the application process.
Visit www.serc.ac.uk to unlock your future #BetterOffAtSERC.