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Emma leads the way in family learning

Emma Chicken from West Rainton completed an Access to HE Diploma at Sunderland College in 2013, then convinced her husband to do the same leading to new opportunities for the whole family.

This remarkable mum and her husband Chris have six children between them, aged from four to 24, yet have still found time to undertake Access to Higher Education courses and go on to quite challenging degrees.

Christopher and Emma with their younger children

Emma, 42, is in her third year at Northumbria University working towards a degree in Childhood Studies with Guidance and Counselling, while husband Chris, 48, is at York University studying for a degree in Occupational Therapy.

Emma, who lives in West Rainton, said: “I got to a certain age and thought I can’t work in a supermarket any more. I had always wanted to work with young people who had substance issues and behavioural problems and thought it’s now or never.

“Also, if the truth be told, I have always wanted to wear a cap and gown and have a graduation day. I didn’t do well at school and always felt that the teachers were only interested if you were gifted and talented, the rest of us got pushed aside.

“I plucked up the courage to find out about an Access to Higher Education course at Sunderland College and I haven’t looked back. The tutors were incredibly supportive and I managed to pass all but one of my units with distinction!

“A year later I convinced Chris to give it a try and he’s now in the second year of his degree. We are now finally both working towards the jobs we always wanted and in six months time I should finally get my graduation day with my husband and kids around me. I couldn’t recommend highly enough that if you want to think about a change in career, or you want to go back to college, to go for the Access to Higher Education route. It has opened so many new doors for all of us.”

“One Awards' innovative results service has been a fantastic development for universities and allows us to check students' achievement immediately ourselves. This is an excellent service which means that we are able to confirm student places quickly and effectively without having to follow up with providers and students or wait for results to be sent on to us. This is because their certification turnaround time of less than two days allows One Awards to process student results almost as soon as the colleges/providers have provided the final verified results. This really does help us put students at the heart of our confirmation process”.

Jane Oswald, Assistant Director, Marketing & Student Recruitment
University of Sunderland