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Graduation stories – juggling family life with studying for a degree

4 September 2013

Hairdresser and mother of two Brenda Clunie didn’t think she’d ever be able to go to university, having left school at a young age. However, this summer she graduated from Abertay with a degree in Criminological Studies. Here she tells us how she balanced family life and work, alongside being a full-time student.

"Going to university was something I always dreamed of doing, but thought I would never achieve due to leaving school so young – when I was just 16. But four years ago, when I got in touch with one of the Student Recruitment Officers at Abertay during Clearing, I found out that there were actually some options for me.

"So I began my academic career on the DipHE Social & Health Science, which was a route for mature students returning to study to gain entry onto their chosen course. After doing that for one year, I joined the four year BA (Hons) Criminological Studies degree programme as a second year.

"I continued working as a hairdresser as a means of supporting my family throughout my years at Abertay, which of course meant life was hectic at times!

"As a parent of two young children I had to maintain a schedule so that I could have family time as well as study time, so I treated university as a full time job, studying and attending classes Monday to Friday 9 - 5, then going home and having some family time. Then, once my children were in bed for the evening, I had my hairdressing clients come to my home.

"I would also work on a Saturday and then spend a Sunday as a family day, so it was certainly a juggling act. The children understood that "mummy had to go to school" though and, although there were times when I could have easily given up on my studies, I was determined to get through it and it was definitely worth it in the end.

"My friends and family helped and supported me a great deal throughout my time at Abertay, especially during exams or times when one (or both) of my children were ill and couldn’t attend nursery.

"I would definitely encourage other prospective students to study at Abertay, as the university opens up a vast amount of opportunities and allows people to further their education. The best thing about studying at Abertay for me has been not only gaining my degree and showing my children that anything is possible if you work hard enough, but also meeting some life long friends.

"As a "mature" student I believe it’s never too late to study and if you are dedicated to your study you can achieve anything! It’s not been an easy journey for me, but with the support and encouragement of my friends and family it has been incredibly rewarding."

Although the DipHE Social & Health Science is no longer on offer, Abertay now runs the AHEAD programme, which is a part-time, evening access course to a wide range of Abertay degrees. For further information, please click here.

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