School of Built Environment, Engineering and Computing

Being a mum and a mature student during a pandemic

Returning to study as a mature student was a big decision for me. I was apprehensive at first, I felt I would stand out as being different and truthfully, I wondered if I was too old. As soon as I started, I realised how many different types of people there were at Leeds Beckett, and in some ways, I feel being older gave me an advantage. I had real world experience, so when we were discussing certain aspects of Project Management, I was able to relate them to real life situations, allowing me a deeper understanding in certain areas.

Kerry Brown

Toward the end of Level 5 I found out I was expecting my second child!  I spoke with my course leader and he provided me with lots of options, in the end I decided I would defer for a year.  Little did we all know, that by that point, we would be in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. Returning for my final year all of the lectures were online, and I was having to homeschool a 5 year old with a 1 year old running around. It was tough - I struggled to fit everything in and at one point, I seriously considered deferring again. I worried if I did defer that I would never find the time to complete it, there were always going to be challenges for me so I decided to do the best that I could in the situation I was in, working when the children had gone to bed and fitting in extra time to study whenever I had any spare time.

Student of the Year Award

I was encouraged to enter the APM Student of the Year competition, and in all honesty, initially I saw it as extra work that I just did not have time for. Some gentle persuasion and encouragement from my course leader led me to stay up one night and complete the submission.

For my submission I had to showcase how I could apply my studies to real-world work. I spoke about things I had been taught on my course and the business I run with my partner.

I was then shortlisted for the finals and I couldn’t believe it - I was happy but also a little stressed with the deadline of my major project fast approaching. I had to deliver a ten-minute presentation and answer questions about my project.

It was all worth it though, as when the judges said my name on the night of the final I was so shocked. The other finalists were amazing and I genuinely couldn’t believe that I had won - I never win anything!  Receiving some recognition made me feel so proud.  

My final thoughts

My journey at university has been quite unique in some ways, and some days I wondered if I would ever complete it all, but submitting my Major Project and winning the award all in one week made everything worthwhile.

I am yet to receive my results for my final year, but I am honestly just so proud that I completed it with everything else going on. My advice for anyone considering a change of career path is to go for it. I have learnt so much, met many amazing people and gained confidence and experience ready for my next chapter - whatever that may be.

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