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A poets journey back to education

Years after leaving education, Shona Marshall shares with us how she reconnected with her love of music and poetry, which led her to study BA (Hons) Creative Writing in Contemporary Culture at Leeds Beckett University.

A poets journey back to education

I had always loved words. At school I did well in English Literature and Language, and I loved writing poetry, but I struggled with other subjects, and along with battling some problems in my personal life, I didn’t do so well on my A-Levels. I fell out of love with academia after sixth form, feeling defeated, and wasn’t sure which direction to take. I eventually lost my way in life.

I was 31 years old when I made the decision to apply to university. I’d been in love with music since childhood, clever lyricism in particular and this had developed into a deep passion. I realised I wanted to reconnect with words, and I began to write poetry again. I wasn’t sure I could use this in my choice of degree, but I knew I wanted to. I kept a close eye on my options at different universities, researching courses.

A colleague of mine had attended Leeds Beckett and highly recommended it as a diverse university with excellent pastoral care. In my adult life I had been diagnosed with ADHD, a chronic health condition, and suffered with mental health issues, so I knew I would need some extra support in obtaining my degree. Beckett was a university on my radar and when I discovered a single honors Creative Writing degree on their website, that was my lightbulb moment.

I had to apply through clearing due to my UCAS points, and although very pessimistic about the outcome, I was accepted! I was elated and began to prepare to move from full-time work and into full-time study, which would be a big change that I wanted to feel prepared for. I used the university website to immediately get in touch with the well-being and disability team who have both been invaluable to me and have offered their support from the beginning.

I was initially worried about my mature student status, but my lecturers and fellow students have accepted me without question. I found I had something unique to offer to the class due to my own experiences in life and I felt valued by those around me. I’ve been able to find societies of interest that I can be a part of which has enhanced my university experience. I’m still getting used to it all and finding my groove, but I know I’ve made the right decision. My writing is thriving in the university environment and I’ve gained a sense of fulfilment from my classes. I feel like I’m finally on the right path.

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