Grandmother discovers career passion in traumatic circumstances

06 December 2013

Rachel Atkinson

Sherry Sarac graduates with a First in social work

A grandmother who discovered her passion for social work during the most traumatic of circumstances is celebrating after graduating with a First from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) earlier this week.

Sherry Sarac suffered the loss of her parents prior to, and shortly following, her three-month-old granddaughter being diagnosed with a terminal illness. She was also made redundant from her job. It was during this period that a social worker was assigned to support the family and this proved to be the turning point in Sherry’s life.

The 54-year-old made enquiries to study social work at UCLan and said: “I reflected on the impact the social worker had on my family and wondered how I could contribute to such worthwhile work. I was convinced I was too old to do the course and would be rejected because of my age and having no qualifications but that wasn’t the case at all.”

She applied to do a foundation course in Care, Community and Citizenship at UCLan alongside enrolling on a Maths and English course. Having completed these requirements, the single mum-of-three was accepted on to the degree.

Sherry, from Warton, said: “In the first few weeks of starting University I started to panic and began to ask myself what possessed me to believe I could do this. But everyone was very supportive and if I was struggling then they were there to support me. I am ever so grateful to them.”

“I have a great belief in education and have and will encourage my children and grandchildren to go to university and achieve to the best of their abilities.

Born to refugee parents, her early life was difficult. She was sent to live with family members in Hungary at the age of four, but then returned to England at the age of 10, having spoken no English at all.

She said: “I struggled at school with bullying and as a result my school work suffered and I left with no qualifications, went straight into work and got married. My circumstances have changed so much since then, but today is a bitter sweet day as I wish my parents were alive to see me graduate. University was not easy, I had to persevere and take one day at a time but I’m very proud of myself.”

Sherry, who is pursuing a career in mental health, said. “My father was Bosnian and did a lot of aid work supporting people affected during the Bosnian war. I think this is where my interest in helping others comes from, my father is my inspiration. On a personal level, my granddaughter who fought so hard to live was also my inspiration.”

Her proud family watched on as Sherry donned her cap and gown and receive her first class degree in BA (Hons) Social Work at Preston’s Guild Hall.

“I would stay in education if I could, I would stay for the rest of my life,” she said. “I regret that I didn’t go to university when I was younger but I was never encouraged. I have a great belief in education and have and will encourage my children and grandchildren to go to university and achieve to the best of their abilities. I hope I can inspire them.”