Susan Sykes left school at 14 because she “didn’t fit in at all”.
With no plan in place for her future, she wasted a year at home doing nothing.
Fast forward to October 2018, and the 21-year-old graduated with an HND qualification in Childhood Practice and now works full-time as a key worker in a nursery.
Here Susan explains how it all worked out for her – thanks to Ayrshire College.
“I had an interview for Intermediate 1 Childcare, but because I left school so early I didn’t have the grades. So I was put into a lower level course called Care Academy. I remember being told they would normally recommend someone my age returning to school, but she recognised I needed to be here. And I did. I didn’t fit in at school at all.
“I was a bit worried about coming to college, but what else could I do? I needed to do something with my life.
“I’ve got anxiety. I was so nervous on my first day, I was shaking. I remember sitting in the car on the way in thinking ‘I can’t do this’. Then when I finally did go in, I sat right up the back with my hoodie up. The first couple of weeks I remember sitting by myself at lunch, before two of my classmates came over, said “why are you sitting yourself? Come sit with us” and took me under their wing. One of those students has been a great friend to me throughout my whole college journey, she’s one of my best pals now.
“So I started in Care Academy, moved onto Intermediate 1 Childcare, then Intermediate 2, NC, HNC and now finally I’ve got my HND. I never thought I’d be able to get to this level. Each year I feel I’ve changed a little bit. My confidence has improved so much, I can actually speak to people now. If you look at me back then and compare that person to now – it’s two totally different people. College has brought out that confidence in me.
“Having to do presentations in front of the class – which still gives me the fear now – helped me so much. You just find a way to do it. The HND really helped me gain leadership skills, which has been so important for me at work. I’m a key worker in charge of eight kids, I’m a Communication Champion, and so it’s important that I’m able to talk confidently to parents about their child’s progress.
“I feel a bit sad leaving Ayrshire College after all of these years, to be honest with you. The College has given me the skills and knowledge that I needed to do what I’m doing now, I’ve gained so much. If I didn’t come here all those years ago, I’m convinced I’d be stuck in a dead end job right now.
“I went from school, to nothing, to here.
“So on my last day, when I knew I wouldn’t be returning, I was trying to drag it on as long as possible. I was talking to my lecturers about nothing important just to stop myself going out of the door. I felt comfortable in the college environment. I knew I could approach every lecturer, and it felt more like a friend offering help than a teacher-pupil relationship.
“Thanks to everyone at the College who’s helped me on my journey. They’ve been a massive help.”
If you’d like to follow in Susan’s footsteps and study towards a career in Childcare, you’ll soon be able to sign up for one of our August courses.