Where did you grow up?
Caldbeck, near Wigton.
What did you study in higher education?
Graphic Design at Northumbria University.
Why did you decide on this subject?
I enjoyed Art and wanted to pursue that.
Why did you decide on this university?
I went to lots of open days and I got a gut feeling when visiting Northumbria University that this was the right place for me to be.
What did you want to be as a child?
Has your career or education taken any unexpected turns?
Yes, it turned out that I disliked my degree and, through volunteering, I worked out that I wanted to work with young people or in education – which I never pictured myself doing.
Why did you decide to study for a degree?
I wanted to aim for a well-paid career and I wanted the experience of gaining a degree.
What did you study at sixth form / college?
I studied Product Design, Business Studies and Drama.
How did you decide what to do after school?
I decided myself. My school offered some basic support and my mum and dad were very supportive but, as they didn’t go to university, I did much of it myself.
What support did you get?
I got some basic support with my UCAS application and time to complete it in school hours. My mum supported me lots by taking me to open days and interviews. I was very grateful for that, as I was aware it was a big ask and I was very conscious of the cost of travel. I hated it costing her in fuel taking me places.
What was the best thing about studying with university? What was the best thing about your course?
I loved the university, it was a great size and had lots of wider opportunities plus I loved the city of Newcastle. I do wish I had changed course though.
Did you find anything difficult about applying for and/or starting a degree?
Starting was really hard. Many on my course had done a Foundation Year in arts and I hadn’t, so I had to work really hard to catch up. I was also very homesick and went home every weekend for the first four months.
Were there any key turning points in your journey into a degree?
The key turning point was starting volunteering; I found my people and made lots of friends. I got exposure to different careers too and it helped me to make decisions on what I want to do with my life. I also worked for the university and, again, made new connections that helped me to settle and made me much more confident and work-aware.
Any tips for anyone choosing to study your course?
I would have done a different course with hindsight so my advice would be to ensure the course you pick is totally correct for you.
What advice would you give to someone from your area?
You can take a year out. Working a few odd jobs whilst you make a more certain decision is a very adult thing to do. Don’t rush just because of what everyone else may be doing. Give yourself time.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?
I don’t know! I’m 28 and I am still unsure what I want to do ‘when I grow up’ so, if you’re reading this and you’re 15 and feel under pressure to decide – rest assured that there are plenty of us adults also unsure of where they want to be in ten years’ time. I do like the industry I work in now and I like my employer but I’m undecided right now.