From education to employment

Middlesbrough mum-of-six proves it’s never too late to follow your dreams

A LIFE-CHANGING decision to enrol at college has helped one Middlesbrough mum get her life back on track after years of suffering.

And now, mum of six Danielle Purvis is on a mission to help others who’ve struggled in life do the same.

The 43-year-old had been out of education for 25 years and a stay-at-home mum for the past 10, when the pandemic hit and her mental health battles were heightened.

Danielle knew it was time to make a change – to create a better life for herself and for her family – and enrolled on an Access to Higher Education Diploma in Humanities and Social Sciences at Middlesbrough College at the same time her son, Kian, now 17, was enrolling.

She said: “When I was younger, I wasn’t interested in school or College and I never fully understood the value of education, but after having my own children, I realised just how important it is and the opportunities it can open up.

“I decided to enrol onto the Access course because I wanted to challenge myself. I knew that I could do it and I was determined to have the chance to go to university; it is something that I had always wanted to do since starting my family.”

Having secured the qualifications she needed to progress, Danielle was accepted into the University of York and is currently studying for a degree in Social Policy.

Determined to make a difference, she’s also taken on a part time student ambassador job, specialising in outreach and access. As part of her role, Danielle visits under-represented communities to break down the barriers to university study and encourage those facing hardship to follow in her footsteps.

She added: “Studying the Access course at Middlesbrough College was life changing. My confidence grew, I made new friends and the experience gave me the strength to change other aspects of my life.

“I left the course with new skills, knowledge, and the ability to apply and study at university. I sometimes pinch myself that this is my life now – I’m studying at one of the most sought-after universities in the country and I’m helping and inspiring to change other people’s lives too.

“Middlesbrough College helped to pick me up from one of my lowest moments and for that I will be forever grateful. Of course, there were challenges as I started the course in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, but with help and support from the team at College I learned how to adapt to a hybrid way of learning, developed new digital skills and was finally doing something for myself. It was the best feeling ever.”

Upon completion of her degree, Danielle hopes to secure a policy making role within the government.

She commented: “Many people say politicians and policy makers are so far removed from the average person on the street and I agree. I want to give a voice to people who are struggling. I’ve been there, I’ve gone through some really tough times in my past – emotionally and financially – and I think its important to have people like me in those conversations.”

While working towards her dream role, Danielle’s hoping to show others it’s never too late to follow your dreams.

“My advice to anyone considering returning to education is to go for it. The support I received from Middlesbrough College was outstanding and I honestly loved every minute.

“I’m now doing something I love, while working towards a career I’ve dreamed about for a long time. Returning to education has truly changed my life for the better.”

An Access to Higher Education Diploma is the perfect choice for mature students wanting to return to education. The diploma is designed for students who don’t currently have a Level 3 qualification such as a Level 3 BTEC or A Levels and want to progress to university.

The flexible part-time qualification can be studied as a daytime or evening option to fit around family life and work. With small class sizes compared to universities and all the individual support students need to ease back into education, this course will help students to succeed and reach their career goals. The Access Diploma is also FREE if students go on to complete a university level course.

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