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Confidence boost with first-class result

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"My confidence soared throughout my experience at UCLan," explains First Class graduate Katie Stollery

Blackpool mum overcomes lack of confidence to graduate and gain employment.

A mum of one whose confidence was so low she felt “unworthy” of attending university is celebrating after getting a first class degree.

Katie Stollery was struggling to raise her young son George while living on benefits but she had an underlying urge to help people so she applied to study social work at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

Three years later the 27-year-old donned her cap and gown to graduate in front of her very proud family and she has landed a job after impressing while on her work placement.

She said: “When I graduated I felt a great sense of achievement and I felt immensely proud of myself for achieving a degree that I once thought was not possible. My family were present, including my six-year-old son who I was able to show that anyone can achieve their goals with hard work regardless of their social background.”

Katie, from Blackpool, said: “I’ve always had a passion for people, I’ve always been a caring and compassionate individual and felt that my chosen career had to be something that involved me helping others but when I first went to UCLan my confidence was so low that it took me all my time to knock on my tutor’s door. I felt that I was unworthy, ‘not good enough’ to be at University and I felt that someone like me who was struggling on benefits would not be able to go to university.

“However I didn’t want my confidence and self-doubt to hold me back but initially that is what I did and there were times through my course when I felt like the same girl knocking upon my tutor’s door for that first tutorial. However the support from my tutor was fantastic and I was able to see myself as an equal amongst a cohort of individuals who were so supportive of one another. My confidence soared throughout my experience at UCLan, I made friends and received excellent feedback from my academic work.”

UCLan helped me to become an empathic practitioner who understands the world of diversity, which is much needed in social work practice.

The former Beacon Hill High School and Preston College pupil was also the first member of her family to attend university.

She added: “When I started I knew that UCLan was the university for me, my experience has been brilliant and I would recommend UCLan to any student who is thinking about going to university. The level of support in the university is really good and it has provided me with the tools to be the person I am today, professionally and personally.”

Katie now works as a project worker at Aiming Higher, which is a third-sector organisation in Blackpool who work with/support families who have children with disabilities. While attending as part of her course’s work placement scheme she organised a day trip for 100 children and their parents/carers to attend the Chill Factore indoor ski slope in Manchester.

“I am passionate about my work and about Aiming Higher which has a special place in my heart,” she said. “My personal experiences have enabled me to relate with others who are in a similar position to how I was before I started at UCLan. They’ve also helped me to become an empathic practitioner who understands the world of diversity, which is much needed in social work practice.”

Rachel Atkinson | 11 August 2016