Amy had wanted to study the course after a friend recommended the university to her. Her sister Shauna was keen to enrol too as she has family commitments and lives close to the campus.
Amy has always been passionate about early years education, and with 17 years of work experience and a level 3 qualification, she wanted to grow her career.
She said: “I wanted to develop my knowledge and understanding to become an even better practitioner. My two children were also my inspirations; I wanted to give them the best I could while they are in their earliest years, and studying their age group, meant I could actively put into practice my knowledge and understanding as a mum.
“I also wanted to inspire them to dream big and know that whatever they want to achieve in life in terms of education, they can! It doesn’t have to be childcare; it can be anything, but if they see me in a cap and gown hanging in a frame on the living room wall, maybe one day, I might also inspire them…”
Prior to her time at UWTSD Shauna had many roles, working in alcohol rehabilitation centres, in projects with deprived families, and in schools with teenagers dealing with behavioural, emotional, and social difficulties.
She said: “After having my first baby I quickly realised that lots of the difficulties experienced in later childhood and into adulthood are often rooted in Early Year’s trauma. This really was my inspiration in applying for this course. I wanted to learn more about the Early Years and how I could engage with this age group in a positive way that might change the trajectory of their lives for their future wellbeing.”
Studying the course as sisters has been a great experience for both.
Shauna said: “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed studying alongside my sister. Her encouragement helped me feel capable of studying at higher education level. Without this, I may not have applied for the course at all. We would often have different ideas within each topic, and this challenged me to think differently. I count myself lucky to have had her alongside me over the two years and have enjoyed seeing us both grow in confidence and ability.”
Amy said: “We have cried together through the grafting, laughed together through many failed attempts recording presentations, and we have encouraged and supported one another every step of the way. I think we both learned quite early on that, university was about our own reading and research, therefore, we both became very passionate about our own academic journeys, and areas of interest.
“There was something very special about sharing this journey with her, something neither of us ever took for granted.”
Both praised the support that they had from their lecturers. Amy said: “About 2 years ago, I walked into university and felt overwhelmed by self-doubt. My lecturers shared words passionately, sensitively, and with challenge, and by the end of that session, I was convinced that I had lecturers who believed in me. I still feel that way. They cared too about us, our lives, families and wanted us to reach our full potential.
Shauna said: “All of the lecturers brought something of real value to my learning experience and I could not have completed the course without their support.”
Glenda Tinney, UWTSD Early Years Admissions Tutor said: “It was a delight to have had the privilege to teach Amy and Shauna. They were always enthusiastic students and engaged in class discussions. Having such knowledgeable and informed early years practitioners means we as lectures are consistently hearing about the opportunities and challenges within the sector, and on Monday evenings I learnt so much from the discussions and insights.
“Over two years Amy and Shauna’s confidence developed, and I know this has supported their career progression as well. It was lovely to know they shared their learning journey together and it will be wonderful today to see them graduate together today as well.”
UWTSD Early Years Lecturer Jessica Pitman said: “The relationships we foster with our flexi students are always very special. It is even more so when family members join together. Amy and Shauna were motivated, funny and kind. They supported other students and created a positive atmosphere in class. They are both extremely driven and are looking to set up their own businesses in the future.
“They have been encouraged to apply for support via our UWTSD Entrepreneurship Start-Up grant that offers current students and alumni chance to develop business ventures. I do hope they do as we need more women in business in work.”