From education to employment

SERC Science Tutor Susan Highlights Experience at SERC

South Eastern Regional College’s expert science team helps students achieve their dream roles – find out more from one of them below.

Colleges Week is an annual campaign organised by the Association of Colleges.  Now in its fifth year, the campaign presents a focus for colleges across the UK to celebrate everything we do.  This week, from 17 – 21 October, we will be sharing profiles and stories from past and present students and staff at SERC on our website and socials.   Find out how SERC is inspiring the next generation, turning ambitions into reality and getting people back on track for learning and a career.  #LoveOurColleges #BetterOffAtSERC 

Susan Gillen, SERC Associate Lecturer in Bioscience, studied Microbiology at the University of Glasgow, then moved to Aberdeen to complete a PhD in Molecular Biology.  On returning to Northern Ireland, she worked in research and development for local companies, and then became interested in teaching. She completed her PGCE part time with the Open University while working. Susan started teaching at SERC in 2010, and has taught across several programmes in that time, including Level 3 BTEC Applied Science, Access to University courses, HND Applied Biology and Foundation Degree in Applied and Medical Sciences.    

Susan comments, “Currently I teach biology and chemistry, I still have a genuine passion for science and enjoy continuing to learn for myself, so much so my colleagues find it amusing that I do courses for fun!  

“Our students come to SERC for many different reasons and with widely differing educational experiences. The best part of the job is seeing our students succeed. We have had so many students go onto brilliant careers and I love hearing from past students. Especially when they say they wouldn’t be where they are if they hadn’t made the decision to enrol at SERC. Our FE and HE courses equip our students with the skills they need to succeed in the workplace or for further/higher education courses. 

“We have always had great feedback from our students over the years. One of the most frequently mentioned feedback is how well they are prepared to move into degree programmes. We place emphasis on becoming independent learners and use different teaching strategies to encourage this. We have organised placements and projects in research labs, industrial labs and government labs over the years. This hands-on practical work is invaluable as the students move on into jobs or further study.”  

The science team is very experienced with a wide range of expertise, which is beneficial for the various competitions SERC students participate in, for example, the annual BT Young Scientist Awards and Science Festival events. SERC Students have been consistently winning awards and becoming finalists in the BT Young Scientist Awards for many years.  Whether it be the SERC science student trio Ben Gibson, Jamel Donald and Caoimhe Clugston winning Biological and Ecological Sciences Senior Group category in 2020, SERC science student Sara Hamilton reaching the BT Young Scientist finals in 2021, or SERC science student Harrison Nesbitt who was a finalist in the BT Young Scientist 2022, SERC students have shown they are ready and willing to prove themselves. 

Keep an eye out as SERC has applied for the BT Young Scientists Awards again this year, as well as plan to appear at the annual NI Science Festival.  

To find out more about science courses at SERC, click here.  

Visit to unlock your future #BetterOffAtSERC. 

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