Graduation case study 2021: Nickelous Rowe

Nick completed the BA (Hons) Graphic Design course and is now using his knowledge, skills and contacts to get his foot in the door as a Junior Graphic Designer.

The 25-year-old from London chose to study at University Centre South Essex as he said the classes were smaller than other universities plus the university offered assistance and support whenever he needed help. It also covered all the areas he is passionate about such as animation, publications and visual marketing.

His tutor said: “Nick is dedicated, committed and hardworking, he has been a fantastic student during his three years with us. We wish him all the success for the future.”

Nick said: “My experience was wonderful because my tutors were able to guide me through the course, I enjoyed the work practices and feedback from my peers and tutors. The experience also helped me to try other creative methods within my work.

“I would like to thank my tutors for all their help and support. Also I want to say thank you to all the staff members who helped and welcomed me during the course. I am truly grateful for the support from my friends at University Centre South Essex. Lastly, I want to thank John, Hannah and Steve for their kindness, support and guidance.”

Success stories

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
 

Success story: Mikki Barrett

Success story: Mikki Barrett

Course studied

Early Years Education BA (Hons)

I wanted to stay local and felt that I had gained a lot of success in my academic and professional life since leaving. I am a Southend resident as well as a single parent who wanted to demonstrate to the community here that anything is possible.

My name is Mikki Barrett, I am 30-years-old, I studied the Access to Teaching Diploma and the first year and a half of the Early Years degree at University Centre South Essex from 2014 until 2017 and this is my story.

I studied the Access to Teaching course in 2014-2015 with Anne Tothill which provided me with a wealth of knowledge and a plethora of research interests. Having taken a gap from education after secondary school and having my first child aged nineteen, I felt nervous and anxious as to what this course would hold. However, upon meeting the course leader, she sparked my passion in the academic field of education and without her, I do not feel I would be in the position I am in today. This course was perfect for my return to education and I have always promoted it to students thinking about a new avenue. 

My time on the Early Years BA Hons course began with meeting the manager which ignited my passion for early years practices. Maria’s strong ethos of inclusivity and knowledge challenged my assumptions on refuting higher education with the belief that ‘you don’t need a degree to succeed.’ Whilst I still loosely believe this, I could not imagine what my life would be like without my academic achievements. 

I received an overall distinction for the Access to Teaching course and after transferring to the University of East London to finish my degree due to personal circumstances, I completed my BA Hons in Early Childhood Studies with a 1st. I am currently studying my MSc Education (Research, Design and Methodology) at the University of Oxford.
Before studying at the university centre, I was a young single parent working in a call centre and working as a bar assistant in the hospitality sector. 

Since completing my course, I have completed voluntary work within local primary schools and nurseries, stood as a voluntary student seminar leader at the University of East London and worked as a research assistant on Child Rights Chat. Additionally, I also worked at Southend Adult Community College as a well-being tutor and was fortunate enough to gain a role as an outreach tutor. This post meant I was able to work with people recovering from alcohol and drugs addiction. Not only did I gain new knowledge from this experience but became incredibly inspired by the efforts the organisers from the charity went and still go to. I will also be eternally grateful to them for showing me new methods in how marginalised people should be integrated into society. 

I am now working at the University Centre South Essex as an associated lecturer on the Early Years undergraduate degree, teaching on the year two modules of pedagogy and research methods.

I wanted to stay local and felt that I had gained a lot of success in my academic and professional life since leaving. I am a Southend resident as well as a single parent who wanted to demonstrate to the community here that anything is possible. The University Centre has so many benefits such as smaller class sizes to allow for a more personal approach to teaching and student led knowledge. 

The most valuable skill I feel I have gained is the aptitude to become incredibly open-minded and submerged in different social contexts whether this be working with people from a higher social class or working with people from grass roots and charitable organisations. This has helped me innovate my approach to listening and advocating for all voices, as well as readjusting my assumptions regarding the value of each individual, regardless of their personal, professional, or academic background.

My favourite memories of being at the University Centre was the extra mile both the leader for Access to Teaching and the Early Years degree took to help students succeed. This could be by providing extra readings tailored to my interests or arranging small one-to-one sessions to push and enhance my knowledge.

I would recommend the University Centre South Essex as I feel the access to higher education courses provide students with excellent opportunities. The course leader proved effortlessly that her expertise was invaluable, and that no student was ever discredited. 

My greatest achievement so far has been finishing my degree and obtaining a place the University of Oxford.

I hope to complete my MSc at the University of Oxford and follow with a second degree in Children’s International Law as well as working within the research field to bridge the gap between children and policy. I feel this would allow for greater advocacy regarding children’s rights to which need to be addressed to make inclusive practices for education and policy making.

My time at the university helped me gain more confidence, especially due to having a young child at the time. As a young, single parent it was difficult to battle systemic issues with prejudice however, this slowly started to change when studying on the Access to Teaching course. This has also been the driving force for me to achieve greatness, something of which every student is possible of. 

For more information on the Early Years programme, visit: www.southessex.ac.uk/course/early-years-education-ba-hons

Success story: Jess Fleming

Success story: Jess Fleming

Course studied

Early Years Education BA (Hons)

The support you get is the best possible and they really get to understand you as a student, how you learn and how they can best support you.

My name is Jess Fleming, I am 26 years old and I studied Early Years Education at University Centre South Essex from October 2018 until May 2021 and this is my story.

I have just finished my Early Years Education Degree and I am moving on start my PGCE in Further Education in September. My overall aim is to gain a 2:2 in Early Years but obviously part of me is hoping for that 2:1.

I have a level 3 diploma in Childcare and Education that I achieved through an apprenticeship in 2013 after dropping out of college due to a poor experience. I worked in Nurseries and also as a Ride Host at Adventure island. In 2015 I gave birth to my little girl who has just turned 6 and I wanted to do something in my career for the long-term and I’ve always wanted to teach. 

It wasn’t so much I chose the University Centre South Essex but that it chose me if that makes any sense? University was not in my plan and was not even a consideration. I spoke to South Essex College about careers advice on what I can do with my current level 3 qualification and they invited me in to speak to the lead of the Early Years programme to see if they had any insight. After speaking with Maria Cruickshank about where I wanted to go in life and her suggesting this course, I felt ready to jump into the deep end and get my degree. 

There are many opportunities that are available for both personal and professional growth. During this course I have been a student rep, a uni-buddy and spoke to students from other courses to share experiences and knowledge. Also, with the CPD courses we have done alongside the degree, I have had a career change while studying and went from ride-host to security guard which is an amazing experience in itself. 

Being in higher education gives you the motivation to work hard to achieve what you set out to do. It helps you time manage, but the best thing is self-confidence. ‘Knowing your stuff’, seeing how much you have grown and developed over the time period and having the confidence to have an opinion and know your worth.
 
In my first year I was diagnosed as dyslexic and with dyspraxia. It was overwhelming but the university has supported me not only academically but emotionally too. It has not been an easy three years outside of my studies but they were still there to support and guide me in any way possible. You can ask for help and they will find every possible way they are able to support, even if it’s just to listen. 

As a student that is also a parent, the university centre have been great when it has come to child care and would never mind if I had to leave to pick the children up or look after them if they were ill. My daughter adored my lecturers and when we were online would often sit next to me on her tablet and she would wave and it was nice not to feel like a burden. 

Some people may be put off by the University Centre South Essex being a small centre but in fact I believe that it is their biggest asset. By having smaller classes then some larger traditional universities it makes it a much more personal leaning experience. You feel noticed and recognised, where as you may get lost in the large crowds of students elsewhere. They make you feel as though you matter, and you are important which in itself is a reason so many push through the tougher parts of studying in order to have the end results.

The support you get is the best possible and they really get to understand you as a student, how you learn and how they can best support you. Not only that but they also help you in decisions after completing your degree and show you the many options are available and help you understand what they are and where you go. I think if I had studied anywhere else, I would have given up before I finished. 

There are so many things I have achieved, personally and also academically but my best moment was submitting my dissertation. Researching something I had keen interest in, gather the information and then create this document that was my work was an extremely proud moment and never in my life before did I think I would get to this moment. 

Originally, I wanted to teach primary education however within the last year of this course it has changed. Through the opportunities I have been given within the University Centre I have realised that I have a real passion for supporting older students so have decided to change my teacher training to one that is specific to Further Education. I plan to stay within F.E for a couple of years and learn, experience, and take opportunities within that before completing my Masters degree and moving forward to teach Higher Education. You could say I plan to do a full circle which is strange for a girl who four years ago never thought she would go back in education, who was shy and who thought very little of her own self-worth. I am now a woman who is confident, who can fight for what she wants and has a passion for knowledge and students.

For more information on the Early Years programme, visit: www.southessex.ac.uk/course/early-years-education-ba-hons

Success story: Deborah Wingfield

Success story: Deborah Wingfield

Course studied

Costume Construction BA (Hons)

If it wasn’t for this course, I wouldn’t have come so far as I have today and hope to keep growing with experience and gaining work in future productions.

My name is Deborah Wingfield, I am 40 years old, I studied Costume Construction at University Centre South Essex from 2018 until 2021 and this is my story.

I am a mum of four children and I was taking on the odd alteration job here and there whilst running my family. Sewing is a life-long skill I have had since I was eight years old! 

I did a fashion design course when I left school. I had many jobs before having children but none were what I really wanted to do. Although I had my family to raise and this was a full-time job for a period of my life, I managed to make time to be creative and was inspired by children’s costumes. I made costumes for my children and created a side-line of little tutus. 

I came across the course by chance at a time when I wasn’t even thinking about returning to study. I discovered that the course was located only 12 minutes from my house and was in collaboration with the Royal Opera House. I was immediately excited as I could really see myself doing it but I was so nervous. 

I attended the open day and then applied for the foundation pathway course. The course was a challenge to manage around running my family but as it was so near and lots of the elements were practical, I managed to make it work.

I learned historical pattern design and construction, classical tutu making taught by the Royal Opera House makers, conservation techniques, research skills, drawing skills, how to design professionally - making sure to include all relevant information within a presentation. How to work within a group, time management, improved writing skills, how to invoice for the appropriate industries and I even learned how to build a website for my portfolio of work which proved valuable when applying for work. 

During the course I managed to set up an alterations business. I found this a good way to learn how things are put together by taking them apart and putting them back together again. My aim was to finish the course not just with a qualification but with real first-hand experience. 

Having a business and qualifications really did help with finding jobs in the costume Industry. Being a qualified experienced seamstress people seem to trust your knowledge and skills. Having an eye-catching portfolio and website really helped sell my skills. I have designed for the Digby Fairweather’s Jazz centre in Southend for their ‘How Fashion shaped Jazz’ project whilst being on the course and the project is now a feature on their website. Also for one of our last university projects our costumes were entered in to a design challenge competition with The Royal Opera House. This meant that all work up to a high standard could be entered and would be displayed at the theatre in Covent Garden and would be displayed on the ROH website. 

Since completing my course I have continued to work within my own bridal alterations business.

I have worked for Sevenoaks Panto for just over a month as wardrobe supervisor. I was running costumes for a total cast of 20 people, this included four band members, eight dancers and eight principles. I spent the first week arranging fittings with the cast and adapting/altering their costumes. When the show began I was managing the maintenance and up keep of the costumes. I had also created a costume track/plot and was responsible for overseeing back stage quick change/dressing roles. This was my biggest achievement yet as the show continued to go on during a risky time as covid19 was a big threat and other theatres were closing.

I took on some work experience with Britain’s Got Talent’s La Voix (a contact made through the course) on her UK tour. I gained experience in assistant stage management duties as well as learning a dressing track and how to prepare for a show and relevant technical information.

 My current position is one of four designers for a low budget film. I was quite nervous about the interview as I aimed for the highest position. But once I had showcased my previous designs and explained my journey so far – my experience in different areas of costume, how I had managed to run my business between jobs and that now I would really like get my teeth into designing professionally, this really helped with my confidence.

If it wasn’t for this course, I wouldn’t have come so far as I have today and hope to keep growing with experience and gaining work in future productions. I gained so much confidence in my work and developed my skill set with professional industry guidance. In the future I would like to design/make for TV and film.

The best thing about doing further or higher education is reaching the finish line and having a huge sense of achievement and being able to own having completed a degree programme and that is yours forever.

The staff at University Centre South Essex were very supportive especially through the pandemic. It’s a great place to study with everything you need to help you progress through the course. 

My time at the University Centre help me with  professionalism- how to write, email and speak more professionally in presentations and interviews. I suffer with on-going anxiety so these skills are just as highly valuable as my practical skills also built on throughout the course. I have been able to turn a hobby into a successful profession.
 

Success story: Gemma Rose

Success story: Gemma Rose

Course studied

Graphic Design & Illustration BA (Hons)

I would recommend University Centre South Essex as I feel you have more time with your tutors compared to others I know who went to universities elsewhere.

My name is Gemma Rose, I am 25-years-old, I studied Graphic Design BA (Hons) at University Centre South Essex from 2015 to 2018 and this is my story.

I finished secondary school and attended South Essex college to study Fine Art. I’ve always been into illustration and felt this was the next step for me. I knew I wanted to go to university, but I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do. I then completed a Level 4 Foundation course in photography as photography was something I also had interest in. Here I experimented with mixing photography and illustration.

My photography tutor at the time suggested I check out the Graphic Design course, one thing led to another and I found myself on the BA Graphic Design course. In total I was at the college and university for six years.

Since completing the course I’ve met and worked with some great people. I’ve worked with rapper Slowthai to produce album merchandise, illustrated a series of children’s books, produced hundreds of illustrations to be used alongside school learning resources and had a lot of fun.

I’m currently working as a freelance illustrator and designer at a co-working space just outside of Southend with other creatives. It’s a big studio with other creatives doing their own thing. Freelancing can get a bit lonely, so it’s nice to be around other creatives.

That’s one of the great things about being a freelancer, you can really be doing dramatically different projects every time. One week you might be designing a logo for a small company, the next you’re working with Slowthai’s design team. At the moment, I’m currently designing and illustrating a series of books for a client, which is something I thoroughly enjoy. It’s all about bringing people’s ideas to life.

I was a remote-working design lead for a company producing school resources for nearly three years, then COVID-19 happened and I ended up losing my job. But one door closes and another opens. I found other projects to keep me busy and embraced working as a freelance illustrator and designer.
University Centre South Essex was such a good experience and every tutor I had was passionate about what they taught and really wanted you to succeed. It was also convenient location with great travel links to London and cheaper tuition fees.

I learnt a lot of new skills from the course and my peers which definitely helped shape me into the creative I am now. I found that the course helped me think more conceptually and ‘out of the box’ when approaching projects and clients. It’s also helped boost my confidence when presenting work and ideas.

What I enjoyed most was the amount of freedom you have and the good feeling of progressing towards your future aims and goals. Also I enjoyed meeting new people, getting new perspectives and bouncing off ideas and knowledge to each other.

When you’re a freelancer you have to supply your own equipment unfortunately, but I took full advantage of using the equipment available at the university, whether that be the full access to the Adobe software or raiding the cupboards for ink and paint brushes. You’d often find me in the screen-printing room or being experimental with new and unusual materials. 

I would recommend University Centre South Essex as I feel you have more time with your tutors compared to others I know who went to universities elsewhere. It’s also a nice environment, the people are friendly and the tutors and staff will help you in any way that they can.
My ambitions would be to revisit one of my old projects, a book I wrote and illustrated as part of a final project during my Graphic Design course. I’d love to redo it and get it published.

University definitely helped me build my confidence when presenting my project outcomes in front of a group and made me confident in my own abilities. 

For more information on the Graphic Design programme, visit: www.southessex.ac.uk/course/graphic-design-ba-hons

Success story: Carrie Ann Stein

Success story: Carrie Ann Stein

Course studied

Costume Construction BA (Hons)

The course set me up very well for a career in the theatre industry because of its remarkable combination of practical training, collaboration and direct theatre experience.

My name is Carrie-Ann Stein, I am 46-years-old, I studied at Costume Construction BA (Hons) at University Centre South Essex from 2016 until 2019 and this is my story.

I trained in law and then changed my career to study BA (Hons) Fashion Design with Knit at Central Saint Martins.

Before the pandemic closed the theatre industry, I was working as a set and costume designer but now I am studying fine art at the Royal College of Art. It is a pre-master's course in fine art in preparation for a Master’s degree.

I was able to undertake two internships with the Royal Opera House during my degree and my tutors were instrumental in organising additional placements at Grange Park Opera and the National Theatre.

Learning how to make a garment to a professional standard was the most valuable skill because it not only taught me practical employable skills but also how to collaborate and work with a wide range of people from performers  to production directors.

The equipment in the university studio reflected the industry standard, namely the sewing machines, overlockers, industrial irons, draping  stands, enormous pattern cutting tables and great stock of bolts of fabric and  haberdashery.

I found that during my time, the tutors and students were especially generous with their knowledge, and they were fun and inspiring to be around.

The course set me up very well for a career in the theatre industry because of its remarkable combination of practical training, collaboration and direct theatre experience.

2019 was a very good year for me professionally. I won the Costume Society Award; the Royal Opera House Design Prize; and I was a finalist of the Linbury  Prize for Stage Design which led to a bursary to work on the set design of a production at the Royal Opera House (although this was later cancelled due to  the pandemic.)

My time at the university has been instrumental in building narrative skills and helping to compose a scene of characters in a setting. The practical garment- making component of the course has become a unique part of my fine art methodology influencing how I construct an image.

All of this has led to me to an offer to study a Master's in fine art print at the Royal College of Art, which I will be starting in September 2022.

For more information on the Costume Construction course, visit: www.southessex.ac.uk/course/costume-construction-ba-hons

Success story: Gemma Salter

Success story: Gemma Salter

Course studied

Costume Construction BA (Hons)

University Centre South Essex has been the biggest and most important part of my life, the whole Costume Construction team are one of a kind. They will support you and give you all the advice in the world and back you every step of the way.

My name is Gemma Salter, I am 25-years-old and I studied Costume Construction BA Hons at University Centre South Essex from 2016 until 2020 and this is my story.

Before coming to University Centre South Essex, I had completed my A-levels and unfortunately wasn’t able to get into university straight away. From this point, I did a foundation diploma, which allowed me to gain a broader perspective of what the creative industry includes. Once I finished, I was able to apply to university successfully.

Since finishing my Costume Construction degree during the middle of the pandemic, I have been lucky enough to have completed a Christmas season at LaplandUK which was an amazing experience. I have also been accepted into the Royal Opera House costume pool.

I’m currently waiting to start my first dresser role at the Royal Opera House in a new production starting in March.

I will be helping cast members get changed into their costumes as well as assisting with any quick changes that may occur during the production. I will also be setting the costumes for the next performance as well as many other things.

I chose to study the Costume Construction course at University Centre South Essex because of the amazing connection that it has with the Royal Opera House and for the tutors, who are still working within industry whilst teaching students. 

The course has helped me know what to expect in all the different areas of the costume department, which is a lot more than people realise. I was able to talk to people who are in the industry and ask them questions that my tutors might not have specific answers for. Being able to ask them these questions, I was able to find out how they got to where they are now and what I need to do to get there.

The best thing about higher education, in all honesty is everything. Don’t get me wrong there are hard times but the whole experience was the best thing I have ever done. Gaining my degree and being able to do a job I love is a rare thing.

Throughout my course I was constantly learning new skills such as creative pattern cutting, making a tutu with head costumer from the Royal Opera House, learning how to take measurements correctly and learning how to insert a zip into a range of fabrics and costumes.

All the equipment in both the studios is what you would use in most making studios. It only differs if you were in a wardrobe department as there wouldn’t be any industrial machine, however both studios do have domestic machines that would more than likely be in every wardrobe/costume department. Everything that I used and saw in the studios I have seen in the industry.

I don’t think I have just one favourite memory from my time at university. Looking back on my time now, just being surrounded by my best friends every day and tutors that you can just have a chat with is incredible.

University Centre South Essex has been the biggest and most important part of my life, the whole Costume Construction team are one of a kind. They will support you and give you all the advice in the world and back you every step of the way. Every person that works at University Centre South Essex will always have your best interest at heart (even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time) 

While being here my confidence has grown so much. I have always been a confident person with people, but when it came to talking about my work or having confidence in my work, that was always at the bottom of the scale. Since having my work on show in the Linbury Theatre at the Royal Opera House, I have become a lot more confident with the work I produce and the way I talk about my work to others.

My ambitions for the future is to become a costume supervisor/wardrobe manager on the west end for major shows.

If you were to tell me ten years ago that I would have a degree in Costume Construction and come out of it with a job at the Royal Opera House, I wouldn’t have believed you no matter what you said.

For more information on the Costume Construction course, visit: www.southessex.ac.uk/course/costume-construction-ba-hons 

Success Story: Gus Nweke

Success Story: Gus Nweke

Course studied

Fine Art BA (Hons)

My time at the centre improved my self-confidence and made me believe in myself and my ability. It helped me to become focused and enabled me to set goals.

My name is Augustus Nweke, I am 51 years old, I studied Fine Art at University Centre South Essex from 2016 until 2020 and this is my story.

I first studied Access to Higher Education and went on to do my Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts. Before studying I worked as a security officer.

I chose to study at University Centre South Essex because it was the closest to me and I could identify with their adult education program easily.

My foundation course prepared me for the next level. It wasn’t a difficult decision to make when I decided to further my studies because I received world-class preparation. I would like to thank Dr Cherry, Andy, Matt and a host of other very supportive staff who helped me. I gained valuable collaborative, organisational and leadership skills whilst studying. At the University Centre you get all the support you need to succeed.

The university centre provided me with the basic equipment and studio assistance in printing, wood work and the sculpture studios. My method of painting now involves both printing and painting which I developed interest in during my Access course year. Now my painting style is deeply rooted in printing.

After leaving the University Centre I did my Master’s degree in Art specialising in painting and my works have been exhibited in some high profile group exhibitions.
I  now work at Stansted airport while pursuing my career in the arts.

As an artist I organise and curate exhibitions, I am interested in critical practice and I paint. 

At Stansted I work to protect civil aviation against unwanted treats and acts of terrorism including protecting the airport facility against illegal and unlawful entry or destruction of property. 

In the future I want to do my practice-based Doctorate research starting in 2023.

I would recommend studying at University Centre South Essex because it understands the needs of adult students. They are flexible, supportive and welcoming. All the staff are interested to see you succeed.

My time at the centre improved my self-confidence and made me believe in myself and my ability. It helped me to become focused and enabled me to set goals.

For more information on the Fine Art programme, visit: www.southessex.ac.uk/course/fine-art-ba-hons
 

Daisy Whittaker, Interior Design graduate shares her story

Daisy Whittaker, Interior Design graduate shares her story

Course studied

Interior Design BA (Hons)

From a practical view it is more cost effective to study here as the fees are lower and also travel & accommodation is cheaper whilst still gaining the same degree, knowledge and experience.

My name is Daisy Whittaker, I am 23 years old, I studied Interior Design at University Centre South Essex from 2016 - 2019 and this is my story.

I studied 3D Design at South Essex College and was awarded a Distinction* and from this went on to study on the BA Hons Interior Design degree and graduated with a 1st Class Honours Degree. 

Since completing the course I went on to a junior designer role for Kelly Hoppen Interiors. I did this for a year before being made redundant during the pandemic.  I have since gone on to set up my own interior design company and have completed projects across the south and east of England.

My job involves a whole array of tasks.  As a business owner I not only design for clients, liaise with them and present to them, I also market my business, deal with finances and fellow business owners.

I chose to study here because the course was accredited by University of the Arts London which is a prestigious design school. I was also familiar with the lecturer (having been taught by her briefly on my college degree) and was confident in the level of skill I would be learning from her. 

From a practical view it is more cost effective than going to university in London (UAL) as the fees are less being outside of the capital and also travel & accommodation is cheaper whilst still gaining the same degree, knowledge and experience.

It helped me prepare for the workplace because we did a lot of work experience which was invaluable. This helped me forge strong connections and industry links as well as gaining real life experience. 

The software that we used is exactly the same as that in industry which is great. The suppliers that we met with and furniture brands are also the same so having some of that knowledge proved really valuable in interviews. My degree has also prepared me with general knowledge about the running of the industry, day-to-day life in the workplace, presentation skills, knowledge on suppliers, how to deal with clients and how to market yourself.

Setting up my own company and organically gaining over six projects in my first six months has been fantastic and in the future, I would like to have jobs booked in up to a year in advance as well as having more overseas projects.  

People are always really impressed that you have studied to a higher degree especially having been awarded a 1st Class honours degree. The experience and knowledge I gained were excellent and I would not be able to run my business without them.

Hearing my name being called at graduation and everyone applauding my 1st class degree was certainly one of the highlights of my university journey. My time at the college and the university centre helped me to grow my confidence and speak in front of others which is an essential tool for running my business. 
 

Helen Barker, Early Years Education student, talks about her experience of returning to education

Helen Barker, Early Years Education student, talks about her experience of returning to education

Course studied

Early Years Education BA (Hons)

I would like to tell those who are considering going back to education to not let fear or uncertainty get in the way. It's been one of the best decisions I've made for myself.

Hello, I'm Helen Barker, aged 26, studying an undergraduate degree in Early Years Education at University Centre South Essex and this is my story.

I decided to go back to education because I felt stuck in the job I was in. I didn't complete A- levels and I wasn't sure what I could do career wise and studying seemed the best option to open up other opportunities. I decided to do the Social Studies Access course as it was the most broad and I thought it would give me the best chance to identify an area of most interest, which it did, as I am now doing Early Years Education. 

I found the information for the Access course through the South Essex College website and it was really easy to apply and get information on funding for the access course. For my undergraduate degree, one of my tutors on the Access course suggested the Early Years Degree to me, based on conversations we'd had over the year and their awareness of my interests in the assignments. Part of the access course was to complete a personal statement and application through UCAS, which was really helpful for my writing skills. 

I'm really enjoying early years education as the topics are interesting and quite broad. We've looked at the physical and mental developmental stages and each year has been more in-depth, looking at these from a sociological and psychological perspective, parents perspective, and in a teaching context. The course has opened my eyes to how many paths there are in life to take and how we can help children to navigate those paths as they grow up. 

One of my initial concerns was that the only career path this Early Years Education degree would take me towards was a teacher. That’s not been true at all. Each assignment introduces me to a new aspect to child development and because of this, I am aiming to complete a masters in psychology to work towards becoming an educational psychologist. 

Studying during lockdown has been difficult, certainly in terms of finding the motivation. I believe that I've been lucky to be studying at such a time, where jobs are in trouble. Being able to study has kept my mind fresh. It's helped me to develop a better routine and taking accountability in my decisions. The hardest part has been not being able to see classmates and tutors face to face, I really miss the discussion that we would have in class. Yet we've adapted really well to working online, which is a silver lining. 

I would like to tell those who are considering going back to education, especially if they have been out of it for some time, to not let fear or uncertainty get in the way. It's been one of the best decisions I've made for myself. Studying is very hard but I wouldn't change a thing about my journey so far, from crying over my first essay for the Access course to now writing my dissertation in my final year, I know I've improved. I'm so proud of myself for doing it and that confidence has flowed into other areas of my life as well. 
 

Daniel McFarlane, Psychology and Sociology graduate, shares his story

Daniel McFarlane, Psychology and Sociology graduate, shares his story

Course studied

Psychology & Sociology BSc (Hons)

My level of confidence and belief in my academic abilities has increased in such a dramatic way because of the support and guidance I received from the amazing lecturers that taught me on my degree.

My name is Daniel Macfarlane, I am 28 years old and I studied Psychology and Sociology at University Centre South Essex from 2017 until 2020 and this is my story.

Before I studied at the college I had various accountancy jobs, moving from place to place for many years.

Since completing the course I have moved to Somerset and become a FE Lecturer teaching the social sciences to access to HE students.
~
I chose University Centre South Essex for a couple of reasons. I was at an age where I did not feel like travelling away to study and the university centre offered a course I was interested in.

I gained an abundance of knowledge concerning topics within sociology and psychology and skills such as teamwork, communication and confidence, that will always be valued within any new role I take on.

The best thing about higher education is realising that you can achieve what you want, if you put the time and effort in.

As a lecturer, I have to accredit my ability to deliver lessons to the confidence I gained within my course at the university centre and the presentation and communication skills that I gained with the support of my lecturers.

I don’t have a specific favourite memory as I enjoyed my time there, but the supportive and intimate classroom environment was something that meant a lot to me and helped me in my studies.

My ambitions for the future is to teacher at degree level and maybe complete a masters.

My level of confidence and belief in my academic abilities has increased in such a dramatic way because of the support and guidance I received from the amazing lecturers that taught me on my degree.
 

Access to Higher Education Journey: William Thatcher's Story

Access to Higher Education Journey: William Thatcher's Story

Course studied

Graphic Design & Illustration BA (Hons)

Whatever your situation I encourage those people thinking of returning to education to make a plan of action and if not this year, maybe the next? Don’t let the past define your future.

My name is Will Thatcher, I’m 26 and a mature student currently in first year of my Graphic Design and Illustration course at University Centre South Essex.

Returning to education was something that I thought about for a long time. I never really enjoyed school and mentally I was in a bad place. By Sixth Form, I felt like I was the only person that had no idea what they wanted to do and the pressure of it all lead me to drop out. I still don’t regret that decision, but I think everyone deserves a second chance to find the right path. Since then, I’ve worked a few jobs including a comfortable position in IT, but I didn’t find it very fulfilling, it was time for a fresh and exciting new challenge.

I have always enjoyed the creative arts and I was interested in doing something in that area for a career. I lacked the qualifications to go straight on to university but by looking at local colleges online, I came across the Access to Higher Education Art & Design course and it was exactly what I wanted. It covers such a great range of areas including photography, graphics and fine art so not only did I have a year of easing back into education, I also had a very clear idea of what degree I wanted to go on to study. 

Access to HE changed my life because I learnt so much and met so many amazing like-minded people from all different backgrounds and ages. I was nervous at first but to come back to education and to be treated like an adult was really refreshing, it gave me a new perspective and made me excited to be learning again. During the course, I was introduced to John Chandler who is the course leader for BA Graphic Design & Illustration, he gave me a great insight into what it was all about so I could be confident in my decision. Obviously, the Access course has suited my needs very well, but I would recommend it to anyone, even if they didn’t want to study at degree level.

Enrolling onto BA Graphic Design & Illustration has been the best decision I have made. One of the things I love about it is the enthusiasm from my lecturers, they are very passionate about their subject and know exactly how to get you excited about things you never even thought about before. I am lucky in the sense that graphic design & illustration is very broad topic that can be about anything really so the sense of freedom you are given is fantastic. I also love seeing the sheer diversity of the work my peers produce during each unit, it is very inspiring to be surrounded by all these people.

In second year, we will have to decide if we want to go down the graphic design or the illustration route. I think I will be leaning towards graphics, so to work as a graphic designer either as a freelancer or for a studio would be ideal for me. I’m particularly interested in logos & branding and I hope one day I will have some involvement in professional sports. Designing the next Olympics or FIFA World Cup logo would be the dream job for me, those are images that are remembered forever.

Initially, it was hard to get used to working from home and some days I found it was difficult to focus as there are lots of distractions at home, but this quickly changed as the college and our lecturers were very informative about what’s going on. We also had very good IT resources which is very useful. I also found it beneficial to keep in contact with the people on my course. We have a WhatsApp group that’s very active and we’re always helping each other out in case anyone has missed anything or needs some help. We are now back one day a week which still isn’t ideal, but I’m glad University Centre South Essex is handling the situation as best and as sensibly as possible.

It’s an important decision to make when taking the journey back into higher education. I had to give up a full-time job to return to education though I was fortunate enough to be able to move back home. I recognise that there are many people out there with a lot more constraints and for them it will be a lot tougher, but I have met plenty of people on the courses that are carers, have families & mortgages etc. that are proving it can be done. All I would say is whatever your situation I encourage those people to make a plan of action and if not this year, maybe the next? Don’t let the past define your future.

To learn more about our courses, visit: www.southessex.ac.uk/he/ucse-courses 

 

Louis Alderman, Graphic Design graduate at University Centre South Essex shares his story

Louis Alderman, Graphic Design graduate at University Centre South Essex shares his story

Course studied

Graphic Design & Illustration BA (Hons)

I would recommend the University Centre, 100% compared to London, it felt a lot more like home and a lot more comfortable and it also felt more bespoke.



My name is Louis, I am 25 years old, I studied Graphic Design at University Centre South Essex 2016- 2018 and this is my story.

I left the University Centre with a 2:2 degree.

Before doing my degree I studied Graphic Design at the college and I had been doing it as a hobby since I was 11.

I spent my first year of university at the University Of East London, however I didn't enjoy anything about it besides the view. With three tutors I ironically had minimal attention from them, and the course felt a bit old school, it wasn't really for me. So I decided to move closer to home and attend the local university centre.

The course and my tutors were amazing and they offered support for my learning difficulties and I was able to be diagnosed with Dysgraphia with Traits of Dyspraxia which has always hindered my learning as it was too expensive to diagnose. The diagnosis didn’t help the problem but it allowed me to understand my issues and allowed me to get support.

Doing my degree was like another level of education, they would teach you how to learn, and how to evolve ideas using your best skill set to create better pieces of work. I think the greatest skill I gained l is how to approach a design with more than one idea, it taught me not to just go with my first initial instinct.

All of the abode software at South Essex College and University Centre South Essex is very useful when you go into industry and one that I rely on to achieve my goals.
Since completing my course I have worked a few freelance jobs but mainly I spent time working at a garden centre as a marketing assistant and I recently lost my job in a designer role at a local design agency due to complications surrounding COVID.

Currently I’m involved in running an online marketing business with two of my best friends.

We came together to start business and it has become the best suited position for my skill set and responsibilities.

As the creative director I take lead with any design aspect of our client’s needs, liaising with them to ensure its the design they want. We are looking to hire a web developer so I will be working with them to produce websites for our clients, based on my original design.

My favourite memory of the university was spending time with classmates outside of class, with it being so close to the Highstreet it made it very easy to “pop to the pub after”.

I would recommend the University Centre, 100% compared to London, it felt a lot more like home and a lot more comfortable and it also felt more bespoke if that makes sense.

My greatest achievement has been running this business and being able to pay ourselves a wage at the end of the month feels pretty good.

In the future I want to be able to relax, and be able to just enjoy life? I think if you’re going to be working for the rest of your life, try your best to do something you love and if you can't, then make it for yourself.

To learn more about the university centre, visit: www.southessex.ac.uk/he/ucse-courses 

Psychology and Sociology graduate Katie Fida shares her story

Psychology and Sociology graduate Katie Fida shares her story

Course studied

Psychology & Sociology BSc (Hons)

I chose this university because I was drawn to the class room style lectures, where more conversation and debates could take place, as I feel this is a brilliant way to learn as opposed to huge lecture theatres.


My name is Katie, I am 25 years old and I studied BSc Psychology and Sociology at University Centre South Essex from 2017 to 2020 and this is my story.

Before coming to the university centre, I completed one year of an adult nursing degree; however, it just didn’t feel 100% right. So, I wanted a career change, I decided to enrol on an Access to Counselling course, which I completed with a Distinction, and then that lead me to the Psychology and Sociology degree. Alongside my college course I worked in healthcare as a Health Care Assistant in hospitals and care homes.  I then got a job working in a Psychiatric hospital whilst studying on my degree, which fuelled my desire to work in the field of psychology. 

I finally was able to marry my wife in August, after it was cancelled in July, then I started a master’s in Psychology in September 2020, which I am due to finish in August 2021.

I am currently working in a Psychiatric hospital, on a Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit. My job entails ensuring the safety of those suffering from severe mental health disorders (at a point of crisis), who have been sectioned under the Mental Health Act. It is my job to observe their mental state daily and report this, carry out enhanced observations to minimise potential risk they pose to themselves or others. I carry out risk assessments, ward rounds, liaise with family members and the MDT. I also assist with care plan writing, verbally de-escalate patients when they are in crisis and carry out CBT skills coaching sessions.  

I started working on the Personality Disorder ward, then I carried out CPD training within the company I work. I now work with patients with Schizophrenia, Bipolar, Psychosis and other severe mental health conditions. I employed my knowledge and skills from the degree into my work also. 

I chose this university because I was drawn to the class room style lectures, where more conversation and debates could take place, as I feel this is a brilliant way to learn as opposed to huge lecture theatres.

It has helped massively with my understanding of a lot of social and psychological dilemmas that people may be in. It has also helped me with critical thinking when in crisis situations. It helped me prepare for my Master’s, the progression from degree level 6 work, to master’s level 7 work felt almost natural. A lot of what I learned on my degree I am now expanding on in my master’s, and I don’t think I would have such a great understanding if I had never completed the degree that I did. 

I gained critical thinking skills, communication, I learned how to use SPSS which is paramount for the profession I seek to be in. I have the skills to write an academic piece of work, which has helped my report writing skills in my current job role. I also learned presentation skills, which has helped me with the confidence of speaking in front of others in a formal manner. This has helped when I have carried out handovers and ward rounds in my current role and have also helped with my masters. 
I used SPSS at the university, which I am very grateful for, as I use this a lot in my master’s now, and will use it many times throughout my career, so that software is the exact same as I am using now and in the future, which is excellent. 

My favourite memory would be the trip we all took to the Bethlam Mental Health Hospital, we got to look through the archive hospital records which we were all absolutely glued to. It was very fascinating and great insight. But I also just have so many brilliant memories from the lectures, being able to chat in depth as a group about the topics, I learned a lot through the conversations. 

I would recommend it because I feel smaller learning groups are an excellent way to build confidence and to really get engaged with the topics you learn. The tutors are very helpful and the smaller class groups means you can have more one to one conversation with the lecturers. It is also in an excellent location. 
My greatest achievement I would say is getting a First class on my dissertation, and then winning an outstanding student award. I have also recently received a Distinction on my master’s Psychology exam. 

After completion of my master’s I hope to progress in the company I am currently in, to an assistant psychologist, and then I will be applying for a Doctorate. I hope to work as a Clinical or Forensic psychologist. I also hope to be a good role model to my daughter, as a single parent it has not been easy studying and working, but I hope it finally pays off and that I can give her a nice life, whilst also working in my dream career.

The university centre really helped with my confidence, especially my academic confidence and to believe that pursuing my aspirations may actually be achievable.
If you would like to learn more about the Psychology and Sociology BSc course, visit: www.southessex.ac.uk/he/ucse-courses 

Teri Athery's story on work experience journey with Essex interior design company

Teri Athery's story on work experience journey with Essex interior design company

Course studied

Interior Design BA (Hons)

I enjoy that my course is run by tutors that have real life industry experience.



Hello my name is Teri Arthey, I am a third year student studying the BA(HONS) Interior Design course at University Centre South Essex and this is my work experience story at Design Coalition. 

My tutor organised the opportunity for a professional mentor, to come in four times a year and present career tips, knowledge and insights and the opportunity to go through our own project ideas and get feedback. Last year sadly due to the pandemic it had to be on teams. After our mentor did the first session with us presenting what he and the company do,  I couldn’t stop thinking about it and kept looking into the company. In our last session right before we left in year 2 we did one-to-one sessions with him and I asked him if I could possibly get some experience in the summer. He asked me to send my cv and portfolio and he’d get back to me. A couple weeks later I was in the studio working. 

I enjoyed everything about my work placement at Design Coalition. I worked within a team that were always so helpful and kind, was given a wide range of opportunities and gained knowledge that I can bring back to university and into the future. I have also gained more confidence and communicational skills. It has cemented the idea that I want to become an interior designer in the future.

The work experience placement ran for 16 weeks all together and thanks to the course, this has enabled me to have a CV and portfolio ready to send when I graduate. If it wasn’t for having my teacher set up the mentor meetings I might have not have had the opportunity.

I enjoy that my course is run by tutors that have real life industry experience. I also really like the small class numbers as this means we have a lot more time with our tutors. We also have access to resources and staff that can help us with other things. There’s always someone you can ask. 

I would highly recommend the university; all the staff are amazing and helpful along with amazing facilities. I came from doing the BTEC level 3 extended diploma in 3D art and design at the college which meant it was a nice smooth transition and got me ready for the course. 

My career aspiration is to be a successful interior designer and my everyday aspiration is to be happy.

Find out more about the Interior Design course by visiting: Interior Design BA (Hons) | South Essex College
 

Success Stories -  Kerry Thomas

Success Stories - Kerry Thomas

Course studied

Graphic Design & Illustration BA (Hons)

My name is Kerry Thomas, I am 35 years old, I studied graphic design at University Centre South Essex from September 2013 until June 2016 and this is my story.

My name is Kerry Thomas, I am 35 years old, I studied graphic design at University Centre South Essex from September 2013 until June 2016 and this is my story.

I left school in 2002 just after my GCSEs and worked up from a receptionist role to accounts payables assistant roles in various jobs until 2007. I then had my son and stayed at home and started a little cupcake company which didn’t really take off. In 2010 I went back to work again in an accounts assistant role until I fell pregnant with my daughter in 2011. After she was born I realised I didn’t want to work in accounts and I wanted to do something creative. I wanted a career so that I could change my family’s future and I wanted my children to know it’s never too late to chase a dream. So I enrolled with the college and did the Access to Art and Design course in 2012. I actually wanted to do interior design however, as I learnt more about graphic design I began to fall in love.

After graduating in October 2016, I landed my first role in a publishing/events company called Media10 and worked across a variety of magazines designing layouts for different publications. After a year I moved on to a creative agency called Powwow Creative. Here I learnt so much, there was such a variety of work from creating social and advertising campaigns to brand development. I was involved in the projects from start to completion and really grew as a designer here. Unfortunately in January 2019 I was made redundant. 

In February 2019 I lined up several interviews including one at Formula One, which was an amazing experience however, I was offered an amazing position at out of home media agency JCDecaux. 

I have been there for the past two years and I absolutely love it. I work in the department called one world which means that I work with all the large and global brands. I help creative solutions come up with new out of home advertising ideas and I create realistic mock-ups so that they can pitch to clients the concepts. I also support the sales team with their PowerPoint decks and any sales and marketing material.


Because I had children and obviously my family life I couldn’t go to a university that was too far away and luckily for me University Centre South Essex was more or less on my doorstep as I lived in Shoeburyness at the time. However that being said, I probably would have still chosen to go there even if I did have the option of going to another university. 


I think because I’d already had experience in the workplace I don’t know if it really helped me prepare for the work blows, it definitely helped me prepare for the type of roles that I would be doing once I had my degree. I can see and I do know the university has helped younger people who may not have had that experience to experience what work the workplace might be like.
The best thing about higher education, from my point of view, is the friendships you make and the inspiration you get from your tutors. There is support and guidance from other people and the pride in receiving recognition for learning about your passion.
One of the biggest skills university gave me was confidence. Confidence in my ability and the confidence to trust myself. It also gave me a firm understanding about the subject in which I was about to embark on a career in.


The equipment is all up-to-date when I was doing my degree and I then went into my first job because I was so used to using the equipment at the university centre I found it really easy to just carry on.


At the end of my first year on the graphic design degree I was feeling a little bit like, is this for me? Am I too old to be learning this? Most of the people on my course were under the age of 22 and had done a Graphic Design BTEC so they were already aware of things that I wasn’t and I was feeling a little deflated. Then we did the final major project and I will never forget that I looked at my final major project and I looked at my tutor John and I just felt in that moment so proud of how far I had come because when I started I knew nothing and looking at that final major project I thought, that's progress, this is where I’m finally getting it and I think my course tutor agreed.


There are a ton of universities that all claim to have the best courses the best people and I’m sure that they do but I don’t think I would be where I am today if it wasn’t for the tutors, support and the guidance I received whilst at University Centre South Essex.
The best way I think to look at it is if a 27 year old mother of two children who has never had any experience in the career that she wants to do is able to go back to school and not only graduate but to also then embark on that career and be established as a designer then I think that shows exactly why you’d be mad not to consider University centre South Essex.
My greatest achievement apart from my beautiful children and getting a degree is working for one of the biggest media advertising agencies in the world (JCDecaux).


I do a lot of freelance work as well and in the future I would like to own my own agency in five to ten years

University Centre South Essex gave me confidence and also never will I be afraid again to chase my dreams because now I know for sure that if you shoot for the moon and you miss, that's okay, you’re still among the stars.


Also can I add in a thank you to Cherry Sandover (Access Course Leader) for taking me under her wing and allowing me to express myself and to John for giving me the chance. He knew I had no prior knowledge of Graphic Design but I promised him I would work hard and he gave me a shot. I want all the tutors to know I kept my promise and I’m still working hard but I will forever appreciate you taking a chance on me and changing my life.
 

Success Stories -  Siobhan Best

Success Stories - Siobhan Best

Course studied

Graphic Design & Illustration BA (Hons)

I love the course so far. Everyone on the course is so friendly and supportive. The classes at University Centre South Essex are very small so there’s always support and equipment available.

My name is Siobhan Best, I am 34 years old, studying BA Graphic Design & Illustration at University Centre South Essex and this is my story.

I worked in mental health care for ten years before having my daughter, Effie and when my daughter started school, I thought it would be fun to do a course to keep me busy.

I chose Access to Art and Design as I loved crafts and drawing in my spare time.  The Access course was amazing and changed my life. It was hard work but I loved every minute, learning new skills and discovering artists. It sounds cheesy but it made me see the world through a new set of eyes! 

I had very few qualifications and had never done well in education until the access course, the tutors encouraged me to apply for a degree and I decided to go for BA Graphic Design and Illustration. 

A friend recommended the course so I looked at the website and met Cherry, one of the tutors, who discussed the course in more detail and inspired me to learn more.

I love the course so far. Everyone on the course is so friendly and supportive. The classes at University Centre South Essex are very small so there’s always support and equipment available. 

After university, I am really interested in printmaking and illustration - I would love to write and illustrate a children’s book. I am also interested in becoming an art teacher.

The difficulties during lockdown have been mainly trying to home-school my daughter whilst doing my coursework and it has certainly been a bit of a balancing act.

I would say to anybody who is looking to start their journey to higher education is to visit the open days and go for it. 

If you would like to learn more about the next virtual open day visit: www.southessex.ac.uk/events 
 

Success Stories -  Emma White

Success Stories - Emma White

Course studied

Interior Design BA (Hons)

I would have never imagined in four years’ time that I would have met my business partner and be setting up our own company, both doing something we truly love.

My name is Emma White, I am 30 years of age, studying BA Hons Interior Design at University Centre South Essex and this is my story.

It was the start of 2017 and I wasn’t enjoying my current job working in HR and had just started writing a blog about home styling and design. Interior design has always been something I’ve enjoyed and found interesting so I finally took the plunge that year to quit my job and go back to studying full-time. 

I started looking online at interior design courses locally and found the degree through there. But as I hadn’t studied art in the past, I wanted to start by trying the Access to HE Art & Design course (which I found through the website) to see if I enjoyed it before committing to the degree. Turns out I did! 

I have really enjoyed the course so far and the briefs are flexible so they allow you to be as creative as you want. It also links well to the interior design industry so the work we do feels really relevant.

After I finish my degree, me and another student on the course are currently setting up our own interior design business so we will have our own company when we finish in May.

During lockdown I sometimes found it hard to feel inspired with an idea for a design, as the days have blurred into one. But I’ve found actually spending some time away from work really helps this rather than staring at a blank screen all day.  

The advice I would give to anyone looking to start their degree journey is to just go for it as you never know where it might lead you. I would have never imagined in four years’ time that I would have met my business partner and be setting up our own company, both doing something we truly love. 

To learn more about the University Centre and what we have to offer, visit: www.southessex.ac.uk/he
 

Success Stories -  Louis Papagavriel

Success Stories - Louis Papagavriel

Course studied

Early Years Education BA (Hons)

You are never too old to achieve your dreams, it might just take some hard work, but anyone can make it.

My name is Louis Papagavriel I am 32, studying the BA Hons Early Years and this is my story.

I decided to return to education not long after my 30th birthday. This was after a spell of major mental health issues causing me to be unable to work.

I did a lot of extensive research and reflected on my strengths and weaknesses when looking for new careers to pursue and decided that I wanted to become a primary school teacher.  I attended the college when I was 17 so I decided to look up what adult courses they offered, discovered Access courses and was able to find out that they clearly fitted into my career goal as the college offered an Access to Teaching course. 

Whilst studying the Access course, we were visited by students on the Early Years Education degree at the college and from what they told us about the course I decided this was the course I wanted to progress on to after I finished my Access course. Since starting the course, I have also visited this year's Access course to inform them about my current course.

The course covers many interesting subjects and has developed my knowledge of Early Years education. The course tutor is also very passionate about the subject which makes some of the more, less exciting subjects more interesting. Also, being in a class of likeminded people and being able to share our experiences and passion for the subject is amazing.

Having a young child who is also having to be home-schooled and trying to complete assignments has been difficult during lockdown but luckily the university has been very accommodating and given me extra time to complete tasks and assignments. Also, an important part of the course is having a placement in local schools. However, due to the pandemic this has not been possible. We have however, been making videos from home for children to watch.

The advice I would give to anyone who is looking to go into higher education is that if you have the drive and determination to change your career or to advance in your current career, then go for it. You are never too old to achieve your dreams, it might just take some hard work, but anyone can make it. 

To learn more about the university centre, visit: www.southessex.ac.uk/events