HAVING always aspired to become a vet, Emily Parkes from Dungannon is now making her dream a reality by studying Veterinary Medicine at the University of Nottingham.
Initially, Emily did not get the A-Level grades her degree course required, but undeterred by the setback she was able to get back on track, joining South West College’s Applied Science course and achieving a triple distinction star grade.
While studying Biology, Chemistry and Sports A-Levels, Emily found that the school learning environment was not a good fit for her, and this experience impacted her final grades.
Consequently, Emily did not get the grades required to progress into higher education Veterinary studies, which left her disheartened and she began to doubt her ability and career choice.
She said: “I was told I was not the candidate for this career, so with that being said, I decided to give up on my dreams and start looking for another career. I suddenly realised that I would need more qualifications and decided to focus on science, my strong point.”
Believing she could achieve more, Emily decided to explore alternative A-Level pathways and visited a South West College Open Day. She was amazed at the wide range of post-16 courses available and was delighted to discover they are considered as valuable as three A-Levels.
After speaking with the tutors, Emily felt encouraged and enrolled at the South West College, Dungannon campus, studying a two-year Level 3 Extended Diploma in Applied Science, one of the broadest based science Diplomas available.
As such, it leads to many different higher education career paths, including, Biomedical, Nursing, Psychology, Nutrition, Environmental, Criminology and Veterinary. This alternative pathway was perfect for Emily and unexpectedly opened the door to a whole new inspirational way of learning.
She said: “I thoroughly enjoyed my time at South West College and would do it again in a heartbeat. I mainly enjoyed the freedom that came with attending this college, from being trusted to be independent and being able to complete your assignments at your own pace and not get overwhelmed.
Furthermore, the learning style was perfect as it was all coursework based so there was no pressure of exams lurking over you, which enabled me to keep track of my progress.”
Emily found the Applied Science course exciting and welcomed the invaluable support she received from her tutors, which she believes aided self-belief and enabled her to conquer her career goals.
She said: “The course was so hands-on and featured an abundance of laboratory-based practicals and discussions, which enhanced my learning experience whilst preparing me with the knowledge and skillset for real workplace situations and demands.
“From day one the tutors supported my career aspirations and were extremely helpful. They will go leaps and bounds to ensure every student gets the grades they need to succeed. As a result, I achieved three distinction stars, which highlights how an encouraging tutor who believes in you will help you achieve your best, even if you don’t think so yourself.”
Before joining South West College, Emily admits pursuing a Veterinary career seemed impossible. However, now completing her preliminary year at the University of Nottingham and in the process of getting her dream job, Emily stresses the importance of not giving up.
She said: “One significant thing I learned from this college is that everyone is equal and yes, you might not have got the best grades in the past, but you can always move forward and fix that.
“This college has a pathway for everyone irrespective of their background and abilities; it accepts your past ‘mistakes’ and is more than cooperative to help you achieve your goals no matter how big or small.
“My ambitions on leaving this college was to make it into a Veterinary college, which is where I am today. Hopefully, my next step is to complete these six years successfully and land my dream job.”