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Success stories

Celebrating Success 2022: Sophie Wade

Celebrating Success 2022: Sophie Wade

Course studied

Graphic Design & Illustration BA (Hons)

The university centre has given me plenty of opportunities to speak with the tutors and seek feedback and support on a one-to-one basis and there is a real community feeling

Sophie Wade, from Stanford-le-Hope, is in her second year of the Graphic Design BA (Hons) course at University Centre South Essex.

She was nominated for the award for her professional manner and her proactive attitude to work. 

Sophie has many notable achievements at the university centre so far such as securing a web design work placement based in London, working at a Leigh-On-Sea based marketing agency and collaborating with the RSPB on her final second year project.

Her tutor said: “Sophie has approached her work placement unit in a professional manner since day one and her proactive manner has meant that she secured many work placement opportunities, including working with the RSPB on her own self-directed project. 

Sophie has been a really great peer mentor throughout the academic year and all her interactions with employers have helped prepare her for the professional world when she completes the course next year.”

Sophie returned to education after three years of working in local authority administration roles to embark on a new creative career path and was very nervous about starting her degree studies in 2020, but said the staff at the university could not have been more accommodating and helpful.

She said: “I feel privileged to have been selected to receive this award and I am extremely grateful to the staff across the UAL creative portfolio who have selected me as the winner.

The university centre has given me plenty of opportunities to speak with the tutors and seek feedback and support on a one-to-one basis and there is a real community feeling. I could not think of a better way to conclude my second year of study here at the university centre.”

Sophie’s ambition for the future is to embark on a career where she can combine her love for graphic design and digital technology and create solutions which make a positive difference to people's lives.
 

Celebrating Success 2022: Mark Ganyu

Celebrating Success 2022: Mark Ganyu

Course studied

General Engineering (HNC)

Learning is ageless and I’ve really enjoyed being a student again and pushing myself to reach my potential

Mark Ganyu, from Stanford-le-Hope, studied HNC General Engineering at University Centre South Essex.

He was nominated for being a motivated, punctual, well-mannered, hardworking individual and for consistently maintaining his high standard performance since in his level 3 part-time engineering course four years ago.

His tutor said: “Mark’s work and performance have been exemplary and has exceeded expectations in the last four years whilst tending to family commitments, changing jobs and overcoming a language barrier. He has been an asset to this programme and we wish him all the success.”

Mark would recommend University Centre South Essex as a mature student as it helped him in many scenarios and was very flexible and supportive. 

Mark commented on his nomination and said: “It was a complete surprise to be winning an award and makes me feel good. Learning is ageless and I’ve really enjoyed being a student again and pushing myself to reach my potential.”

“It’s a kind gesture from the awarding bodies and tutors to recognise my efforts and would like to thank them all for their dedication during my time at the university centre.”

Mark has aspirations of studying for a higher education degree course but may take his knowledge and skills to his current company, where he can continue accepting new challenges and opportunities. 
 

Celebrating Success 2022: Billy Gibbons

Celebrating Success 2022: Billy Gibbons

Course studied

Special Educational Needs and Disability Studies BA (Hons)

I would recommend people to look at University Centre South Essex, especially if you have a disability as there is good access and amazing support.

UEA Student of the Year, Billy Gibbons, won his award for his determination to succeed in spite of the challenges he faces.

Billy has significant speech and language delay, developmental delay and an auditory processing impairment. He communicates using ‘total communication’ which combines British Sign Language, lip reading, speaking and listening. He also has mild cerebral palsy affecting mainly his lower limbs.

His tutors have praised him for not letting barriers get in his way and for always striving to achieve his best.

Billy said he was ‘very proud’ to have won the award.

He said: “I knew I would be very committed and determined to do my very best this year and very thankful to be recognised by my tutors for this.”

Billy was quick to recognise and praise the ‘excellent’ support he is receiving, which was one of the reasons he chose to study at the university centre.

He added: “I wanted to study at University Centre South Essex because there was opportunity for me to keep the fantastic support I had had during my time on my Further Education course at the college.

“I would recommend people to look at University Centre South Essex, especially if you have a disability as there is good access and amazing support.

Billy’s ambition is to complete his degree, something he has been working towards and dreaming of since he was young.

He said he also wants to become a role model for other students who believe they can’t go to university when in fact they can. 

Celebrating Success 2022: Aniku-Rehman Gul

Celebrating Success 2022: Aniku-Rehman Gul

Course studied

General Engineering (HNC)

I would highly recommended the university centre for its variety of different courses, professional and expert tutors, it is extremely well organised and student orientated.”

Aniku has carried off  the HNC/HND Student of the Year award because of his excellent attitude towards learning.

He said: “It is an absolute honour to win this award and I'm humbled that my mentors/teachers think of me so highly.”

Aniku said he chose to study at University Centre South Essex because it is one of the only higher education institutions that offer the course he wanted study - electro-mechanical engineering. Being employed as a multi-disciplined engineer, this was the perfect course for him. 

His tutor commented: “Aniku is motivated, punctual, well-mannered, committed, hardworking, and an excellent collaborator. He is very thorough in implementing given feedback and is improving his work consistently. 

“Aniku’s distance travelled in such a brief time since he joined L4 HNC programme in September 2021 is remarkable. He has flourished from a quiet student to an accomplished confident team member not hesitating to offer his assistance to his peers and tutors. He is an asset to his programme of study.

Aniku added: “It is an extremely well organised course. Considering my course is part-time it can get intense. Having a course that’s organised so well just makes everything, especially the learning part, easier to digest.

“I like that the different aspects of engineering are covered well and taught in a professional and easily digestible manner.

“My greatest achievement so far has been gaining promotion from maintenance technician to regional reliability engineer. I would highly recommended the university centre for its variety of different courses, professional and expert tutors, it is extremely well organised and student orientated.”

Aniku said that he would really like to continue his education and get a degree in Electromechanical Engineering. His future ambition is to take up a Chartered Engineering role or become a senior consultant. 


 

Celebrating Success 2022: Amy Slade

Celebrating Success 2022: Amy Slade

Course studied

Hair and Makeup Design and Application for Production FdA

The university centre feels more like a family environment; you get the opportunity to collaborate with other students from other courses as well as work with people who are a part of the industry.

UAL Student of the Year, Amy Slade has won the award for overcoming severe anxiety and showing impeccable determination.

Amy said she chose the course because there are units in it that are not included in other universities and they focus on what is needed in the industry.

She said: “I am surprised but happy to get this award, I enjoyed the course because of the concept of studying with a smaller group of students. You also get more one-to-one time with your lecturers for when you need help with your work or somebody to talk to.
I had the creative freedom to explore the units independently and include my own personal interests in my assessments.”

Amy’s tutor said: “Amy suffered with severe anxiety before attending our course and her skills were of a low standard for industry. Since September, she has embraced all wellbeing sessions with confidence and success, she has picked up all hair techniques, including the advanced techniques within six weeks. She has embraced every challenge that has been thrown her way, so much so, she has completed five work experience placements where all other students have declined them.

“Her attitude and drive has to be commended, as her confidence has soared, we are all extremely proud and it is a joy to watch her truly blossom In this short amount of time. It’s like she is a new person – it’s truly amazing.”

Amy feels that completing her first year having had the opportunities to collaborate with other students for their own personal projects as well as industry work experience has been her greatest achievement.

She added: “The university centre feels more like a family environment; you get the opportunity to collaborate with other students from other courses as well as work with people who are a part of the industry. In the future I would like to travel and to try to find my way in the industry to secure a career as a hair and makeup artist; particularly for film, TV and music.”

Success story: Taylor Skevington

Success story: Taylor Skevington

Course studied

Criminology & Forensic Investigation BSc (Hons)

The course was very interesting and unlike other courses I had seen at other universities. Also, the centre was close to home and had multiple options for travel.



My name is Taylor Skevington, I am 23 years old, I studied Criminology & Forensic Investigation BSc (Hons) at University Centre South Essex from October 2017 to June 2020 and this is my story.

I took my A-Levels at Seevic College in English Language and Literature, Anthropology, Sociology and Psychology and applied for the degree straight after.

I have gone on to do a MA Criminology degree at the University of Essex and achieved a Distinction. I am now a 1st year PhD student in Criminology at Essex.

I have recently finished a part-time position as a research officer on the Understanding Domestic Abuse Perpetrators Project for the Home Office.

I was entrusted to do research for and write the literature review of the project and was also given administrative tasks for the overall project.

My PhD supervisor gave me the position as they were one of the researchers involved in the project and thought the topic was close to my own research.

The course was very interesting and unlike other courses I had seen at other universities. Also, the centre was close to home and had multiple options for travel.

The module on Personal Development was extremely helpful as it gave us tips on important skills such as writing your CV and job interviews. The work placements during the third (and last) year were also good experience for careers in the discipline. 
Higher education gives you the opportunity to learn more about a subject you are passionate in and to further your personal development.

I gained valuable timekeeping and presentation skills because of the multiple types of assignments that were assigned. It also taught me skills in writing and research, especially important in further education. 
My favourite memory of doing my degree was being in lectures with my peers as it was always a welcoming and fun atmosphere.

Not only was my degree interesting but my lecturers were extremely supportive and constructive in their criticisms.

My aim is to become a researcher/academic in criminology/sociology.

My time at the college helped me build my confidence in my work and in communicating with others.

For more information on the Criminology and Forensic Investigation: www.southessex.ac.uk/course//criminology-and-forensic-investigation-bsc-hons-1

Success story: Phil Steed

Success story: Phil Steed

Course studied

Graphic Design & Illustration BA (Hons)

It was a privilege to go back to university and now realise at 17 I just wasn’t ready to truly apply myself. Going back as a mature student I absolutely loved being back in education and using the grey matter.



My name is Phil Steed, I am 54-years-old and I studied a degree at University Centre South Essex in Graphic Design BA Hons from/until 2010-2013 and this is my story.

I had worked in the design industry for a number of years but wanted to attain my degree. I have continued to work in industry, but have also now been involved every year working with the second year degree students, including crits and portfolio clinics.

I have just left the Sequel Group as head of creative (which I did three days a week) to go back to being an entirely self-employed design consultant.
I currently run a number of corporate accounts, working closely with a self-employed communications consultant, as well as design, where I cover the full project management for all requirements.

I have been in industry since approximately 1990 and worked my way up the ladder in a number of internal comms agencies before going self-employed.
Primarily I chose University Centre South Essex due to the location. I have a young family so not having a long commute to university was high on the agenda. I also liked the facilities and had a friend who had recently completed the course. Their final show was superb – largely due to the huge diversity of medium used. It was really attractive to be on a course that was not restrictive.

It was a privilege to go back to university and now realise at 17 I just wasn’t ready to truly apply myself. Going back as a mature student I absolutely loved being back in education and using the grey matter. I enjoyed the essays and especially the dissertation (which wasn’t universally loved by the younger participants) and trying different skills – the 3D studio was such a great environment to work with a variety of interesting materials.

My favourite memories was the comradery with my fellow students and teachers. I was blessed with a cracking group of classmates, and the staff across the course were knowledgeable and really fun to work with. 

I don’t have any experience of other universities, but I felt the quality of the centre, and what we produced, would sit up there with any in the country. The building is modern, the facilities are great, and who wouldn’t want to study by the seaside.

I had been self-employed for 10 years before going on the course but what it did was highlight the importance of collaboration. I also undertook for one of the briefs a willow sculpturing course – something I’d like to further pursue. 

In the future, it would be great to have further opportunities to work with the students – even ideally as a part time associate. I am also looking at various MA courses.

I do want to highlight that not only going back, but getting a first, was a huge achievement. For years it had played on my mind that I didn’t get my degree so to complete it.

To learn more about the Graphic Design provision, visit: www.southessex.ac.uk/course/graphic-design-ba-hons