Tracy Hyde is a mature student who returned to education after 25 years to pursue her dreams of working in the mental health sector.
“I went back to college to study English and maths. I needed the qualifications to progress into nursing which was something I always wanted to do. I also wanted to prove that having children at a young age did not mean that my life, ambitions and dreams were over.
“I worked in the insurance industry for 13 years but my heart was never in it so I changed jobs and started working as a PA for a lady who was blind and had physical disabilities.
“Whilst I worked for her, I used to say how I wanted to get into nursing but didn't have the qualifications to do this and that I was too old.
“She told me that the only person holding me back was myself. The funding for her care package came to an end so I bit the bullet and signed up at Joseph Priestley Campus for English and maths.
“Going back to college after 25 years meant that my experience was challenging. It was a lot of hard work, alongside working, running a home and making sure all my homework was complete, but the end goal kept me going.
“One of the highlights was having supportive tutors whom I will be eternally grateful for. My maths tutor offered additional sessions in his own time to make sure everyone succeeded. Nothing was too much trouble even when I had meltdowns and felt that I just couldn't grasp the dreaded algebra or know the difference between SOHCAHTOA and Pythagoras.
“I've also met some like-minded peers that will be life-long friends. The biggest highlight of course was achieving my GCSEs; all the hard work and determination paid off.
“During the run-up to my GCSEs, there was an option to visit the Lifelong Learning Centre (LLC) at the University of Leeds. This was a brilliant opportunity to get up to scratch with my studies and allowed me to look to the future and see where my newfound education would take me.
“Whilst there, I had a meeting with the guidance officers and became aware of a Progression to Higher Education (PHE) course in the LLC. Based on my background and qualifications, I decided to pursue that.
“I am right where I need to be at the moment. I'm currently on my first year of a three year degree at Leeds University studying to become BSc (Hons) Mental Health Nurse. I'm hoping to progress in the mental health sector.
“If someone had said to me when I signed up for English and maths at Leeds City College that I would now be studying at the University of Leeds, I would have laughed. Regardless of your situations, do something for you and grasp any opportunity that comes your way.
“I'm a normal girl from a working class background and if I can achieve this, anyone can. I would like to thank all my tutors that encouraged me, supported me and helped me achieve the end result that I needed.”