Rachel’s Story

24 years old, Walney (Barrow-in-Furness)

Where did you grow up?

Walney, Furness.

What did you study in higher education?

Primary Education at the University of Cumbria.

Why did you decide on this subject?

I enjoy working with children and teaching them new things.

Why did you decide on this university?

It was close to home but a new city to experience and I wanted to meet new people.

What did you want to be as a child?

A Zoologist.

Has your career or education taken any unexpected turns? 

I realised I wanted to work with children when I was in college and I was teaching dance as a part-time job. After completing my degree, I decided I wanted a year out of education before returning. After I return I applied for my current job role which involves working with 16-17 year olds rather than primary students and I enjoy it much more.

Why did you decide to study for a degree?

Mainly to get away from my home town, live independently and get some freedom. I knew I wanted to teach or work with children and young people and I knew I would need a degree to do that.

What did you study at sixth form / college? 

At sixth form I studied Drama & Theatre studies, Dance, English Literature and English Language. I really enjoyed English and knew taking both subjects would helping writing essays and assignments at university and, as it was something I struggled with, I thought they were good choices. I choose Drama and Dance because they were subjects I loved and are transferable skills that I use now, as I also work at festivals in the summer, as a street performing and it is something I am passionate about.

How did you decide what to do after school / college?

During my part-time job teaching, I spoke to my boss and decided it was the career I wanted. I also did work experience in year 10 at a school which I really enjoyed.

Did anyone help you to decide?

My boss and friend helped me with advice.  She has always taught in different capacities and it was her passionate for young people that inspired me to want to be a teacher.

What support did you get?

I got support at sixth form in applying to university; my mum and dad didn’t really want me to go so I got a couple of jobs and supported myself.

What was the best thing about studying with your university? What was the best thing about your course?

The best thing is the lifelong friends I have made and also the transferable skills to real life. Everything I learnt at university, whether in the classroom or in a lecture hall, helped me become the person I am today. It also gave me an opportunity to meet a wider variety of people and travel to different places.

Did you find anything difficult about applying for and/or starting a degree? 

I definitely found it difficult writing my personal statement because when you’re younger you don’t think you have a lot of skills but once I sat down with friends and college tutors and spoke about my achievements and experiences I found it easier.

Were there any key turning points in your journey into a degree?

My last year was definitely a key turning point for me where I realised being a full-time primary teacher is a massive job and can be really stressful and I don’t handle stress well. That is why I decided to take a year out to work on myself and my mental health.

I think finishing your degree definitely gives you a massive feeling of achievement but also freedom from education. Your educational journey might not stop at the end of your course but I definitely felt a weight lifted from the responsibility.

Any tips for anyone choosing to study your course?

My main tip is to choose something you are passionate about and investigate the different types of courses available and if you can go for a taster day/ open day at the place your going to study.

What advice would you give to someone from your area?

We live in a great area with opportunities, but moving away, even if for a short while, will expand your understanding of other cultures, beliefs, communities and how they all function differently. Having that experience can make you more confident and  make you more appealing to employers.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

Owning my own business teaching drama to young children in the local area.