From education to employment

Inspirational Lecturers at Northern Regional College Changed my Life

graduates holding hats in the air

A young County Antrim woman who had such a positive learning experience as a student at Northern Regional College is back at the College again for the start of another academic year. This time though she is back, not as a student but as a part-time lecturer.

Helena Boyle, who lives in Crumlin said her inspirational lecturers with their enthusiasm for passing on their skills and knowledge to students changed her life.

After leaving school, Helena completed a HNC in Business at Northern Regional College in Ballymena and subsequently secured employment as a care assistant in a supported living unit for people with brain injury.

Although she enjoyed her work, she knew that she would need additional qualifications to progress in her career.

Explaining her journey from school leaver in 2006 to Cedar Foundation Team Leader and member of the College’s lecturing staff in 2023, Helena said:

“I checked what courses were available at the local FE Colleges and decided Northern Regional College offered the most flexible choice of health and social care courses. Blended learning, a combination of face-to-face teaching and online teaching to allow greater flexibility was a great option for someone like me who had to juggle their study with work commitments.”

Successful completion of the Level 2 Diploma in Health and Social Care gave Helena a taste for learning. She then did a Level 3 Diploma in Health and Social Care and a Level 4 Diploma (fast track) in Social and Community Work, to progress to do a Level 5 Diploma in Leadership for Health and Social Care Services. In tandem with these qualifications, Helena also completed several Level 2 accredited short courses at the College in Dementia Awareness and Mental Health and Well Being.

All the health and social care courses were completed at the College’s Newtownabbey campus and Helena said that collectively they gave her a solid foundation in health and social care which helped enormously in her chosen career path.

Helana Said:

“The content for all the courses I did was relatable, and I gained a lot of new knowledge and skills that could be put into practice at work. Completing the courses also gave me greater confidence in my decision making and leadership skills so I was able to apply for – and be offered – more senior roles.

“I can honestly say that my experience of studying Health and Social Care at Northern Regional College in Newtownabbey was a most fulfilling experience. The lecturers were supportive with a great personal interest in their students. They wanted us to do well, and nothing was ever too much bother. I really felt like they were cheering us on, and this was a great motivator.  

“Thanks to my own experience at the College, health and social care is now a subject I feel passionate about and I would like others to enjoy the same positive experience of learning that I had.”

As the new term gets underway, Helena has these words of encouragement and advice for anyone thinking about returning to study:

“Studying at any age will help develop skills, knowledge, confidence, as well as resilience and self-esteem. While is a growing demand for health and social care staff, it is important that people working in the sector have the necessary skills and knowledge to provide the necessary high quality of care that is required to look after what are sometimes the most vulnerable people in our society.

Although she has now joined the health and social care lecturing team at the College, Helena plans to continue working with Cedar Foundation to maintain her vocational competence, which will ultimately benefit her students.

“My personal experience at the College was my inspiration to push on. I hope to be able toinspire my students in the same way that my lecturers inspired me.”

Helena continued that she didn’t think she would ever be finished learning: “I have my eye on some of the short courses currently available at the College. Many of these are free so I see it as a great opportunity to upskill.

“Having studied at health and social care from level 2 to level 5, I would have no hesitation recommending any health and social care courses at Northern Regional College staff. The courses open so many possibilities for further study and can be a stepping-stone to career progression and or university. The courses are well designed, and the staff are incredibly supportive. Take it from me, you will not regret signing up.”

Northern Regional College are still accepting applications for a range of full-time and part- courses starting in September. For further information visit Northern Regional College.

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