Public services students collect huge donations for local Thurrock foodbank

A group of level 3 Public Service students at the college’s Thurrock campus took part in a food bank donation to raise money for the local Thurrock community. 

Running from Thursday 29 April to Tuesday 13 May, the group of students successfully promoted the food bank initiative throughout the college as well as through local group chats on social media. 

Lauren Hooper, alongside her classmates, Harry, Syddie, Jade, Frank, Josh and Alfie were all responsible in helping to make the donation service a huge success. The students managed to collect a whopping 90kg worth of food which was donated to the Thurrock food bank.

Lauren and her classmates worked hard to spread the word about the service and said: “As a group we wanted to make a positive difference in such a hard time for everyone and felt that the food bank was a good cause as it was supporting families who live in our community.”

Peter Newall, Operations Manager for Thurrock Foodbank, said: “Every donation we receive goes to help someone in Thurrock who is struggling at this time. Thurrock not only supplies food, but we try to put people in contact with the relevant agency that will be able to help them with their specific needs. The aim of our work is to engage the community, to help the community.”

“The best place for this message to get out to the public is through schools and colleges and the students working together is a great example of how someone has really got the message and has taken real positive action to help in a very practical way. It is a team effort, This is Thurrock people helping Thurrock people.”

For more information about the Thurrock Foodbank service, visit: Thurrock Foodbank | Helping Local People in Crisis

Success stories

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: 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: Andy Amoako

Celebrating Success 2022: Andy Amoako

Course studied

Electrical Installations Level 3 Diploma (2365)

The environment is quite serene and calming. The college gives the opportunity to fully explore your academic visions.

Building Services Student of the Year, Andy Amoako, was nominated for his enthusiasm to learn and progress while pursuing his aspiration of becoming an electrical engineer.

The 20-year-old from Grays studied Electrical Instillation at the college’s Thurrock Campus and is described by his tutors as a ‘model student’.

His tutor added: “It is truly a pleasure to have Andy in my class, he is a credit both to himself and the college.’
Andy said it was amazing to win the award.

He said: “It felt so good to receive an academic recognition, I have never been really recognized for anything like this, so it felt so great to be seen like that!

“I chose to study at the college because among all the available choices, South Essex College stood out more. The environment is quite serene and calming. The college gives the opportunity to fully explore your academic visions.

Andy is now looking to progress onto university to further his skills. As for the future he said: “I want to reach a height so high, I can't see the ground.”


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: 


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: 

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: