Former @S_ERC Access student Lynsey McLaughlin has been shortlisted in the upcoming #SNTA Student @NursingTimes Awards 2020. Lynsey, who is currently in her final year of a BSc Adult Nursing at Queen’s University Belfast, is a finalist in the Outstanding Contribution to Student Affairs category.

Lynsey had previously worked as a hairdresser for 16 years when she decided it was time for a for a career change. She came along to one of the College open days to find out how she could be better off at SERC and hasn’t looked back since.

Speaking about her experience on SERC’s Access course and getting back into education, she said, “I always had a desire to go into nursing so after attending an open day at the College, I decided now was the time to make the step. The Access course worked well for me as I’m a single mother of two. After 16 years out of education I was so nervous, but I quickly settled after meeting my tutors. They explained how the course would work but also mentally prepared the whole class for the hard work that was expected. I got great support and advice throughout the course.

She added, “The College gave me so much support in preparing to progress to university. Before my interview for Queen’s University Belfast, SERC held mock interviews. It was great experience and helped me feel more prepared for the real interview for entry. When I started at Queen’s I felt I had a head start on most people as I already knew how to use the Harvard reference system and had learnt the basics of biology on the Access course.”

She concluded, “I always go back to visit my tutors at SERC as I truly believe I wouldn’t be where I am today without their help and support.”

Ellie Bradley, Deputy Head of School for Health, Early Years and Adult Education said, “The Access course at SERC is geared for people, just like Lynsey, who have been out of education for two years or more. We don’t get hung up on what happened in the past. Our focus is on this nice fresh start where everyone gets the opportunity to prove to themselves, their families and friends that they can succeed, whether that is getting qualifications to pursue a vocational course in further education or maybe starting a course a university. Everyone’s journey and aspirations are different.

“For us, it is important that the education is accessible. We structure the timetable around school drop-off and pick-ups and if students need a day off to deal with some crisis at home, we can work around that, so they don’t fall behind. We are not school, the classes are small, and they are engaging, everyone contributes. Every day we are proving to the students that learning can be fun.

She concluded, “We watch people who are afraid to come into the building and see this amazing change as they develop their confidence, their learning, gain new skills and change their aspirations. Hearing about Lynsey’s journey helps us inspire others to give it a go and reinforces our mantra that it’s never too late for education. We wish her the best of luck with the Awards - in our eyes, she truly is a winner.”

Winners of the Student Nursing Times Awards 2020 will be announced on April 24 at Grosvenor House Hotel, London.  

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