Walking along Ipswich Waterfront shortly after graduating, I noticed a quote by George Eliot in one of the university windows ‘It is never too late to be what you might have been.’ Reading this made me quite emotional. As a mature student having spent the last 6 years studying part time for my degree, whilst working in the tourism industry, I could totally relate to the quote and felt extremely proud and thankful that I had chosen to study at the University of Suffolk.
I had spent many hours weighing up whether to embark on further study, however once I decided to enrol, I was fully committed. Studying as a mature student alongside working and raising a family certainly has its challenges but with good organisation skills and determination there is no limit to what you can achieve.
Studying Tourism and Event Management at the university appealed to me because it was very practical and many of the modules were assessed on assignments rather than exam based. I thought this would suit my style of learning. The Event Management modules had a very hands on approach which included planning and running events. This was a great way of gaining experience whilst getting to know and work with local companies and charities. The different choices of modules in the course meant that I could tailor it to my interests and also to what I felt would be useful for me in the future.
When I look back at my time at the university there are many stand out moments. From organising and delivering an International Women’s Day conference for 170 delegates as part of a small team of event managers to being an event assistant on a knitting and sewing holiday! I also travelled with other students to Seville to learn more about language and culture and visited the World Travel Market in London.
It was during my second year at the university that I found I really settled into the academic style of learning, which made me feel that I could really do this and achieve a good grade for my degree. An encouraging feeling for someone who failed more exams than they passed at school!
On my final year, writing my dissertation was definitely a challenge. I remember looking at a blank page wondering how do you even start writing 12,000 words on your chosen subject. Even though lectures for my degree had finished, support from the university was still there whenever I needed it and it was a huge sense of achievement handing in my last piece of work.
The opportunity of learning is perhaps what is foremost in your mind when you go to university. I found that the experience gave me so much more. As well as discovering a new love for learning it also taught me to question and not always to take everything on face value. More importantly, as well as completing a degree, which gave me up to date knowledge and skills for the future, it also gave me confidence and made me realise that you can achieve anything you want to, you just have to set your mind to it.
I was delighted when I graduated in 2016 with a First Class degree and was completely surprised when I was presented with an award for the highest achievement by a student on the BA (Hons) Event, Tourism & Hospitality Programme, 2016.
I was given the opportunity by the university to present the findings of my dissertation ‘Suffolk as a Holiday Destination: An analysis of tourist choice’ at the Suffolk Inside Out Tourism Conference at Trinity Park in 2016.
Since graduating I have remained at my place of work, Windmill Lodges a small holiday let company where I have been since 2008. I enjoy working for a small business as this gives me a great overview in all aspects of running a domestic tourism business and the opportunity of being involved in managing the customer journey.
During my time at university I was given the opportunity of becoming a blogger which I enjoyed so much that after graduating in 2016, I set up my own blog www.postcardfromsuffolk.com a tourism resource for Suffolk, encouraging people to get out and about and explore what the county has to offer.
I have taken up a number of voluntary roles over recent years which have included becoming a Suffolk Coast Greeter (planning and delivering walking tours on the Suffolk Coast) and joining the Social Media Team in London for Heritage Open Days, England’s largest festival of history and culture.
I have been volunteering at National Trust, Sutton Hoo Since 2017 as a Marketing and Communications Assistant which has been a great way to use my marketing and visitor attraction skills learnt during my degree. I really enjoy being part of their team of volunteers.
In 2019 I joined Cancer Research as an Event Assistant for Race for Life. It was great to use my event management skills to help run such important events and to become a valued member of their wonderful team.
Whenever I think of my time at the university, it always makes me smile and holds many special memories. If you are considering further study, you really can achieve anything if you set your mind to it, which is why I love this quote by C.S. Lewis ‘You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream’