When Tracy Grattidge moved to Oswestry from Manchester in 2006, going to university had never crossed her mind. She was moving down here to be with her new partner and to be a full time housewife and mother to her young son.
All went as planned until 2008 when, owing to circumstances beyond his control, her partner lost his job. Despite several attempts at becoming his own boss his health deteriorated and Tracy realised she was going to have to take on the responsibility of being the family’s sole breadwinner.
Before coming to Oswestry, Tracy had spent nineteen years working in offices but says that although she was good with figures her heart was never in that type of work. She says “I grew up in a family where no-one went to university. I was expected to leave school and get a job so that’s what I did.”
Also she now realised that this kind of employment would never provide sufficient income to allow her to make the future she wanted for herself and her family, without relying on the benefits system.
Since being in Oswestry, Tracy had become involved in voluntary work with the local council and through this she had come to hear about the opportunities available at the local college. She made an appointment to find out more.
In 2011, after being out of the employment market for over five years, Tracy joined the Access to Higher Education (HE) Diploma course at Walford and North Shropshire College.
The Access to HE Diploma course is designed for people who would like to study in HE but who, for whatever reason, left school without the usual qualifications. It prepares people for university by teaching effective study skills alongside providing the necessary academic knowledge.
Tracy says: “Going to college was a major step for me, I was apprehensive as it had been some time since I was last in a learning environment. I was amazed, not only by my own ability to learn so much, but by the fact that I learned it in such a short time.
"The lecturers were hugely supportive in all my lessons and it’s surprising how easy and comfortable I found getting back into learning. The subjects were really interesting and the facilities and resources were brilliant. ”
Tracy has now been offered places at both Wrexham and Manchester Universities to study Social Work and she hopes to go on to specialise in working with young offenders or other vulnerable young adults.
She added: “I believe everyone is born with potential. Young people need have that potential nurtured and be shown the options available to them, so they can go on and make the most of their lives, just as I hope to do. This Access course has been amazing! Being at the College really builds your confidence. I’d recommend it to anyone interested in building a new career.”
For more information about the Access to HE course, or other courses, starting in September 2012, visitt www.wnsc.ac.uk or telephone 01691 688000