Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 15.19.43AN ORGANISATION that has helped thousands of people into higher education and ultimately changed lives is appealing for some of its former students to come forward to help celebrate its 20th anniversary.

One Awards, which was previously known as TROCN or OCN North East region, is keen to hear from anyone holding an access to higher education certificate, who went on to complete a university degree.

The awarding body is based in Peterlee, County Durham and has been affiliated with all of the North East’s further education colleges over the last 20 years.

Helen Smith, One Awards’ Marketing Officer, said: “If you have done an access to HE qualification in the last 20 years then there’s a good chance your qualification was validated by One Awards under its current name or one of its previous brands.

“We are keen to hear from anyone who did an access course and went on to successfully complete a university degree. We are building up a set of case studies for our 20th year celebrations and would love to hear from people who went to university and find out what they achieved after, whether its led them down a new career path or business venture.”

One current success story is third year degree student and former shelf stacker Emma Chicken. This remarkable mum and her husband Chris have six children between them, aged from four to 24, yet have still found time to undertake access to higher education courses and go on to quite challenging degrees.

Emma, 42, is at Northumbria University working towards a degree in childhood studies with guidance and counseling while husband Chris, 48, is at York University studying for a degree in occupational therapy.

Emma, who lives in West Rainton, said: “I got to a certain age and thought ‘I can’t work in a supermarket any more.’ I had always wanted to work with young people who had substance issues and behavioural problems and thought it’s now or never.

“Also if the truth be told, I have always wanted to wear a cap and gown and have a graduation day. I didn’t do well at school and always felt that the teachers were only interested if you were gifted and talented, the rest of us got pushed aside.

“I plucked up the courage to find out about an access to higher education course at Sunderland College and I haven’t looked back. The tutors were incredibly supportive and I managed to pass all but one of my modules with distinction!

“A year later I convinced Chris to give it a try and he’s now in his second year of his degree. We are now finally both working towards the jobs we always wanted and in six months time I should finally get my graduation day with my husband and kids around me. I couldn’t recommend highly enough that if you want to think about a change in career or you want to go back to college to go for the access to higher education route. It has opened so many new doors for all of us.”

Louise added: “Along with a booklet of case studies a 20th Anniversary event will take place at the Sage, Gateshead in March 2016 and will signify the start of our celebratory year. We want as many people as possible to join us in sharing their learning journeys as part of this celebration of achievement and life changing route to new opportunities.”

One Awards is keen to hear from anyone who has gone through this route and has a story to tell. Please email VA20@oneawards.org.uk.

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