Chemistry was right between student and Ayrshire College

Access to STEM

A former Ayrshire College student who started his further education adventure on the College’s Access to STEM course is now on course to achieve a Chemistry degree.

Jordan Nelson, 24 from Kilmaurs, dreamt of becoming a football player when he left Stewarton Academy but soon realised he needed an education to fall back on.

He had a look at what Ayrshire College were offering and noticed the Access to STEM course included everything he enjoyed at school – Maths and Science with a bit of English – and decided to go for it.

Now he is halfway through a Chemistry degree that he hopes will take him onto a career in medicine, and he credits Ayrshire College as a massive influence in helping him achieve what he’s achieved.

He said “I really enjoyed my time at the College, and in a way I wish I was still back here. Of course I had to move onto the next stage, but the lecturers were fantastic – they helped me get through what was a difficult course.

“[Curriculum Manager] Ged Freel was a good guy who always answered my questions well, [lecturers] Carole Barnes and Derek Walls were a great help – the whole science department was really good, to be fair.

“The hard work has paid off now that I’m at university. I had two options when I left the College: I had an unconditional for petrochemical engineering at one university, and a conditional for Chemistry at another.”

Jordan chose the latter, under the condition that he attended summer school to pick up a few Higher qualifications.

“They needed to know I had the goods to actually do it,” he said.

“Summer school gave me a feel for the university and I’d definitely recommend that to other people.”

If you would like to follow in Jordan’s footsteps and start on the Access to STEM course, you can visit our Course page here.

How I became a Ryanair cabin crew member

Katie Murphy studied on the NC Travel & Tourism course at Ayrshire College

Katie Murphy studied on the NC Travel & Tourism course at Ayrshire College

Katie Murphy’s career is set to take off as she leaves college this week for a cabin crew job with Ryanair. The NC Travel and Tourism student from Kilmarnock landed the job after a successful year studying at Ayrshire College. In her blog she tells us about her college experience, and how it has led to her dream job.


Tell us about your tourism course and how it has prepared you for work.

“I have really liked my course because it has so many different aspects to it. It opens your mind to all kinds of careers that you did not even know existed. Obviously I enjoyed the Cabin Crew module because it was what I was most interested in, and when I finished it I knew that it was definitely the career for me.

“We also covered airport ground operations, how to be a resort rep, customer care, marketing in tourism and we also learned about the history and structure of the tourism industry. I think there is something for everyone in this course.

“Some of the best bits have been the field trips – we have been airside in Glasgow airport, toured local visitor attractions, visited Christmas markets, enjoyed a behind the scenes tour of the Radisson hotel and even chartered a yacht. We have had guest speakers in the class and I was really inspired by the cabin crew member from British Airways.

“You also learn how to manage your time and get organised, use IT, communications and numeracy, work in teams and problem solving. These are called core skills and employers are looking for people with these skills.”


Apart from the content of your course what else did you like about coming to college?

“The people in my class – we are a really close group and have all supported each other. I’ve made a lot of new friends and they have helped me in so many ways. You can meet some of them in the video. (I’m the one doing the interviewing and filming!)

“Also one of our lecturers, Angie, has done so much for me by encouraging me and telling me “you can do it.” Sometimes we just need to hear that somebody believes in you. She has so many connections in the industry and was able to organise all the trips and visits that made the course so interesting. She went above and beyond to make it a great experience for us all.”

Sometimes it’s not just about coming to college – it’s about balancing your studying with everything else that is going on in your life at the same time. How’s it been for you?

“Before I came to college I was in foster care. I made a decision to become independent and live on my own. I got my own home and some help to furnish it and decorate it. I had very little money so I had to learn to budget. This was a life changing experience for me. I am proud that I have completed the course and passed all my modules and have coped with the independent living.”


How did you find out about the job?

“I was always Googling “Cabin Crew Jobs” and came across Crewlink. They describe themselves as the official training and recruitment partner with Ryanair. Crewlink specialises in recruiting, training and employing airline cabin crew for Europe’s leading low-fares airline.

“I applied for a job and one hour later they responded with an interview date. I was given advice on what to wear and how to prepare for the interview.”

What was your interview like?

“I was really nervous before the interview, but they created a really nice atmosphere and I was actually quite relaxed. There were ten of us and we listened to a presentation, then we all had a one-to-one interview. They read out a passage and I had to repeat it back. I was asked things like, ‘why do you want to be a cabin crew member?’, ‘What skills and qualities do you have?’ I have never had a job before so it was all a new experience for me.”

When did you find out you had got the job?

“It was two weeks later I received a letter inviting me to train as a cabin crew member. I start on 15 June in Germany. I have to pay for my uniform, accommodation and training. I started a Facebook page with the other people who are training at the same time as me so I have already made some new friends before I’ve even left Scotland.”

How do you feel right now?

“Really excited – I can’t believe I am actually going to train as a cabin crew member. It’s a dream come true for me as I’ve wanted to do this since I was very young and travelled abroad on holiday. As I watched the air stewards working during the flight I knew straight away this was the job for me. I have not actually travelled very much so this will be a great opportunity to see the world and get paid for it!”

What advice would you give other people who are just about to start their tourism career?

“I would definitely encourage other young people to follow their dream, work hard and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. You can do anything if you want to, you just have to believe in yourself. I have grown up in foster care and I’ve overcome a lot of challenges. When I was younger I moved around three secondary schools and found it hard to fit in and be part of something. College has given me a much better start and proved that you really can start here and go anywhere!”

Good luck Katie we know you’ll do a fabulous job!

Katie was in the NC Travel and Tourism class on the Kilmarnock campus 2014/15. The class has made a video showing a week in the life of a tourism student. Katie helped make this video and you can hear her interviewing her friends about their experiences.