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Kimberly McGowan

"The AHEAD programme gave me the confidence I needed to take the step back into education. It allowed me to see that I was capable of pushing myself to do better in life."

Leaving school halfway through fifth year, Kimberley went to college determined to pursue her hobby of art. But she soon realised that while art was her passion, it wasn't something she wanted to make a career out of.

Struggling to know where to turn, she discovered the AHEAD programme at Abertay and now, nearly five years on, she is graduating with an honours degree in Psychology and Counselling and is about to embark on a Masters degree.

AHEAD is a part-time evening access course, helping those who have been out of education for three years or more or who don't have the qualifications for a degree education. Completing the programme guarantees a place on a range of Abertay degrees.

Now 27, Kimberley would urge anyone in her situation to join the programme.

She said: "I had been out of education since I was around 18, so when I heard about AHEAD, I jumped at the chance to study at university to begin a new step in my life and find my right career.

"Without AHEAD I wouldn't have done my degree and I'd probably be stuck in a job that didn't challenge me."

So, how will Kimberley, who has an eight-year-old son, feel on Graduation Day?

"I will feel very proud. It's a massive achievement for me as I have so many personal barriers which have made this process gruelling at times. To say I have completed my honours degree amongst all of the madness is mind blowing to me."

And what does the future hold? "Well, I've found a real passion for psychology and counselling. Because of this, the brilliant counselling tutor and the pluralistic approach, I have applied for my post graduate study and secured my place on the Counselling Master's course."

"I feel I’ve really taken advantage of the opportunity that the AHEAD course has given me and I will always be grateful!"