Balancing act pays dividends for first-class mum

19 July 2022

Ellen Rivas-Torrecillas applied to study sexual health through Clearing

A mature student who combined returning to education with working and raising two young children has celebrated graduating with a First from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

Ellen Rivas-Torrecillas, who took to the graduation stage in front of her four-year-old son Noah and three-year-old daughter Indie, applied to study the BSc (Hons) Sexual Health through Clearing.

Her hard work and determination to succeed has now landed her a job as a community education sexual health co-ordinator for Lancashire Sexual Health.

The 28-year-old, from Ormskirk, said: “Going to university didn’t really cross my radar when I was younger. However, once I had made that decision, I applied through Clearing.

“I hadn’t studied for years so graduating now, as a mature student with a First-class honours degree, gives me so much pride.

“I hope in the future that I can show my children that you don’t have to take the traditional routes in education and there’s always opportunities to learn, no matter your age.”

"I hadn’t studied for years so graduating now, as a mature student with a First-class honours degree, gives me so much pride"

Ellen Rivas-Torrecillas

Ellen worked as a Health Care Assistant at West Lancashire Sexual Health while she was studying and had to contend with all the issues that arose during the national lockdown.

The former St Bede’s Catholic High School and St John Rigby College pupil said: “During my first year Covid-19 hit and we were put into lockdown. All my learning moved online, my children’s nursery closed, and my partner Edward, a HGV driver, was still working away as an essential worker.

“This meant I was juggling childcare and study, and I had just started a new job! Transitioning to online study was hard, but the support from my tutors was unwavering. I had to learn how to really organise and prioritise. I would find myself watching lectures back online once the kids were asleep or trying to do an hour of study here and there whilst they napped.”

Ellen is now using all the skills she learned during her three-year-course at UCLan in her new role and praised the course and her lecturers. She added: “UCLan is the only UK university to offer the BSc (Hons) Sexual Health and the content of the course obviously interested me, but what really kept me going was the lecturers. The course was taught in such a creative way and I can honestly say I was never bored.”

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