North East Connected

Inspiring student achieves Durham dream

Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 09.10.00A REMARKABLE student who defied all the odds has completed his first term at Durham University.

Single dad-of-five Jamie Alderson struggled with his education after his GCSEs coincided with him starting a family.

With the growing demand at home and after being a carer for his ex-wife for nine years, Jamie, 26, wanted to become a role model for his children.

He said: “I wanted to lead by example and my main stumbling block was my education.

“My sister had heard about a course delivered by Hartlepool College, so I went in and enquired.”

Jamie enrolled on the Access to Higher Education Diploma course in Humanities and Social Sciences, an eight-month intensive course that awards the equivalent of five A-levels.

He continued: “Don’t get me wrong, it was really hard at first, I had to push myself to get up to speed with my English and Maths but the functional skills course really catered for me and the lecturers were always on hand to help.

“Not only does the course help you get your A-levels, but it also prepares you for university, helping you apply and also create your personal statement.

“In fact it was this time last year I started getting my university offers from Teesside, Sunderland, Northumbria and Durham.”

Jamie had chosen to study psychology after finding an interest in the subject during his Access to H.E. Course.

He added: “I loved the element of child psychology and having a young family myself it really appealed to me.

“I couldn’t believe it when I got my offer from Durham. In my eyes people who go there are usually the richest and most intelligent, so I was taken aback to get an offer.

“I was nervous but the staff really instilled this confidence in me that I could do it. Durham Uni campus is also in Stockton, which means a lot less travel time.”

In his first term at university Jamie is already excelling in his studies, much to the delight of the Access to Higher Education Co-ordinator Karin Herbener.

She said: “I’m so proud of Jamie and what he’s achieved in just one year. You would not believe the change in him since completing the course. I will always remember his first oral presentation when I could see him shaking with nerves, now he is a completely different person.

“You can tell just by the way he speaks, this hasn’t just been an educational course for him, it’s changed his outlook on life.

“I knew Jamie would be brilliant at university and the Access course has set him up perfectly.”

Hartlepool College offers five different Access to Higher Education courses including the Health Diploma, Humanities and Social Sciences, Educational Studies, Computing and Applied Law, as well as functional skills courses for those without any qualification in English and Maths.

The College was awarded ‘most improved’ last year by the awarding body ONE AWARDS.

Karin added: “The courses are great for people who maybe didn’t do so well the first time around at school but now want to go into higher education. Instead of two years studying for A-levels, students can do an eight-month intensive course and come out with the equivalent of 5 A-levels and a place at university.

“Because of the demanding nature of the programme, we’re now introducing some Pre-Access courses in January to provide learners with basic skills in English, Maths and Science before going on to complete a full access course.”

Hartlepool College is currently running its #thatresolution campaign with applications open for January enrolment. To view the courses click here: or to find out more call: 01429 295111.

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