Meet the Kilmarnock 2018 graduation prizewinners

In the lead-up to the Kilmarnock Campus graduation we will unveil our graduation prizewinners. At the Kilmarnock graduation, there are 10 recipients in total.

Next up is Amy McFadzean, HNC Applied Sciences, who is receiving the Student of the Year – Engineering and Science Award.

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Before coming to college, I was a full-time single parent to my daughter. I left school with no qualifications but had always wanted to study science.

I decided to just go for it and applied for an Access to Life Sciences course in 2016. I wanted to do something for myself and make my daughter proud. I enjoyed the Access course so much that I decided to continue onto the HNC Applied Science course.

I was really shy and was nervous about coming to college and meeting new people. I had no confidence in myself so wasn’t sure if it was even the right decision. I was so worried the course would be too difficult for me.

There was a lot of lab work, such as staining bacteria in Microbiology and a few titrations, and we also studied subjects like Cell Biology and Biochemistry. Our Graded Unit involved researching a topic related to science and writing up a report on it. I loved learning about our cells and how they function.

Receiving an ‘A’ for my Graded Unit and the great friendships I’ve made during the past two years have been major highlights for me.

I couldn’t believe that I’d won this award! I’ve worked so hard and it feels great to have that acknowledged. I’m so grateful to have won it. It’ll look great on my CV and will help if I apply for placements at university too.

It’s definitely given me a reason to stop doubting myself so much.

I’m a completely different person than I was when I started the Access course. I have gained confidence in myself and have made some amazing lifelong friends. I’ve gained useful practical skills, such as how to use a pipette and how to properly write a report. These skills will no doubt benefit me at university and further on in my career.

In the future, I would absolutely love to work in scientific research. I’m going to work hard to get there.

I would absolutely recommend the college as a place of study. The lecturers are amazing and supportive, and I have thoroughly enjoyed the two years I’ve been here. I’m so glad I made the choice to study at Ayrshire College.


Meet the Ayr 2018 graduation prizewinners

In the lead-up to the Ayr Campus graduation we will unveil our graduation prizewinners.  At the Ayr graduation, there are 15 recipients in total.

Next, is Student of the Year  – HNC Quantity Surveying Award, Lorna Jane Sullivan, HNC Quantity Surveying.

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“I decided to study this course as I had worked for a quantity surveyor in the past and was extremely interested in the work they did. I also required this qualification to be able to continue my studies.

The course involved learning about the role of a quantity surveyor within the construction industry, as well a placement within a workplace and taking part in site visits. I had to apply myself when working towards my graded unit, and I learned to manage my time better, which will help me at university.

I had the opportunity to undertake a placement with Siemens in Glasgow where I worked with other quantity surveyors in the commercial industry. This was definitely a highlight of my time with the College as I enjoyed learning that a quantity surveyor is not only construction but also within the commercial industry.

The other highlights were receiving an ‘A’ for my graded unit as well as being chosen for this award!

I am completely over the moon to have won this award and am very humbled that my lecturers felt that I deserved it and recognised my hard work. I feel that I would not have been able to achieve what I have so far without the encouragement and support from lecturers.

I have just entered second year in BA Honours in Quantity Surveying at Glasgow Caledonian University. After I graduate, I plan to be working full-time as a quantity surveyor either in construction or commercial industries.”


Meet the Ayr 2018 graduation prizewinners

In the lead-up to the Ayr Campus graduation we will unveil our graduation prizewinners.  At the Ayr graduation, there are 15 recipients in total.

Read why these students deserve special recognition.  Next up is Student of the Year for Engineering and Science, Nicola Jane MacDonald, HNC Electrical Engineering.

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“I’d always enjoyed maths and physics at school but at 17, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do as a career. After school, I chose to go on to do nursing, but after two years, I realised it wasn’t for me. Five years later I decided it was time for a change. Engineering seemed fitting as it combined both maths and problem solving. My Dad is an Electronic Engineer – maybe that’s where I get it from!

I knew before going into the course that there wouldn’t be many female students in the Electrical Engineering class.  I was one of only two women in the class, but I wouldn’t say I saw that as a concern. The percentage of women in STEM related careers is on the rise which is great and I never felt out of place.

Within the course we learned a multitude of electrical engineering topics.  Also, learning how advanced maths and physics formulae fit into real life engineering scenarios was really interesting. Andy, our lecturer, was fantastic. I’ve never met anyone as good at maths and he had a great method of teaching.

I was really surprised when I found out I had won this award. I was with my Mum at the time and she was over the moon. It’s an achievement I’m really proud of.

This award gives me an incentive to continue to work hard going forward and focus on my future. I’ll be sure to add it to my personal statement when applying for university too.

I am continuing my studies with Ayrshire College to complete the HND Electrical Engineering.  After the HND there is a direct entry into third year at Glasgow Caledonian University where I hope to finish my studies with a degree. After that I would love to be accepted onto a graduate program with a large company.”


It’s never too late to learn Science

In the next blog post of the #NeverTooLateToLearn series – where members of our Marketing team shadowed one of our mature students throughout a typical day at college – PR Officer Martin Currie spoke to Victoria Lanni, a 32-year-old HNC Applied Science student.

Victoria had just finished her final exam when we spoke. It was an exam she needed to pass in order to meet the conditions of her university application.

Find out how she got on, and how she’s found the science course, as a mature student at Ayrshire College…


Victoria is a very interesting case study. On paper she seems like the rest of the subjects in our #NeverTooLateToLearn series – a mature student who has returned to education with a laser-like focus on a specific career.

What makes Victoria’s story so interesting though, is that the career she is pursuing is a career in nursing. Yet she is studying a science course.

A lot of people still don’t realise that a science course is a genuine route to becoming a nurse, in fact for many it’s actually the preferred pathway. It allows you to fully immerse yourself in how the body works. Victoria has stressed that this has particularly helped her to understand disease progression and how people react to specific medication.

Victoria said “Someone I know is a nurse and she told me that you can take this route into nursing. Of course there were concerns, I had been out of education for a long time and I knew I’d be surrounded by younger people who had more recent experience of science courses. Being honest, if it wasn’t for the lecturers’ support then I’m not sure I’d have been able to do it. Although the girls I sit on the same bench with came through the National 5 and National 6 courses and they’ve been a great help this year too.

“I’d studied at Ayrshire College [on a Software Development course] back in 2004 but had to drop out as I moved to England. Now I’m back and I’ve not done too badly. I’ve got a conditional offer from Glasgow Caledonian University which meant I needed to pass everything this year, and I have. I’m so relieved to have no re-sits!

“I’ve got a little girl who is 4 years old but my time management has been good. When she goes to bed, that’s when I study. I’ve also got my Mum and my partner to help take care of her and take her to nursery whenever I’m at college.

“The course was two full days and one half day. Our time would be split between lab work and theory. For example, one of our experiments was to take salicylic acid and acetic anhydride and try to mix them together to produce aspirin. Only so much of the products will react, so it’s all down to how much reacts that determines how pure the aspirin is. We then compared our product with commercial aspirin. How did it compare? Ours was rubbish!

“I’ve really enjoyed my time at Ayrshire College. I’ve enjoyed the learning process, although maybe not the chemistry side of things as it is very complex! But I’ve also enjoyed what I’ve learnt about myself and how I deal with situations. I’ve met some really lovely people – again, if it wasn’t for the lecturers I don’t think I would’ve got through, they were very understanding.

“It’s been a journey. It’s been a learning curve. I feel like I’ve chosen to do it at the right time in my life. If I’d studied this when I was 18 I probably wouldn’t have paid much attention. Now I really want to do it.

“Nursing is something I’ve always wanted to do. When I was younger a lot of things happened that stopped me and took me away from being in a place where I could get my education. Now I’m going to university!”

It’s never too late to learn Administration and IT

The Marketing team has been set a task to spend a day in the life of a student. Our aim is to provide an insight into some of our courses to help us provide better information to applicants.

Caroline Greer spent a morning in class with Jess Kirkwood, a HNC Administration and IT student who is 47. Jess was very excited as she had just passed her Graded Unit and was in class for her Visual Communication and Social Media module – this was the first class in the College to do this module.

So, with great results and a chance to learn digital marketing skills, it’s been a huge confidence boost to end her year at College.


What made you choose this point in your life to come to college?

I think it was a case of I needed a change, but I wanted to combine old skills I had, with a new skill. I really wanted a job where it suited my lifestyle better. I knew that administration would be a Monday to Friday job allowing me to keep my weekends free.  My first course was administration with medical options, which gave me a qualification to work in a doctor’s surgery. I decided to stay on at College and do the HNC, which would give me access to a wider range of jobs as it’s a better qualification.

What worries did you have about returning to education?

One of my main worries was “would I be clever enough?” as I’m well into my late forties, so my memory isn’t what it used to be. Another worry was money, as I’d been funded before for an HNC, and I knew I wouldn’t receive a bursary. Therefore, for my NC I didn’t get any money to come, but got my fees paid, and this year for the HNC, I got a student loan.

Why did you choose this course?

This was the next level up in Admin, the NC was level 5/6 and the HNC is level 7. It is recognised as a really good qualification to have to help you apply for jobs in admin.

What have you enjoyed the most?

I’ve enjoyed my sense of achievement and learning new things again. I’ve enjoyed being part of something that has been loads of fun.  Our class get on really well and help each other. You have your pals and you hang about together, you all help each other, that’s the good thing about it – you’re not alone.

What has been challenging?

The pace has been challenging for me. Obviously the higher you go the more pressure there is and juggling your work life balance – what’s happening at home, with the demands of the course, but that’s how you succeed.  If it was easy it wouldn’t be worth doing.

What support have you accessed and how has this helped?

I received help from the Inclusive Learning team. I have a hearing deficit, so I made them aware that I might come across some barriers. For my learning to be successful, communication is important. They put things in place for me, and let lecturers know that verbal commands are sometimes difficult for me to pick up, especially when you’re in a big class who are all talking at the one time. It’s up to me to position myself in a place where I can hear and see, and it’s up to me to let them know if there’s a problem.  Inclusive Learning are great, they are very accommodating and they do everything they can to help you.  So, I’m very lucky.


What advice would you give to other adults thinking about returning to education?

Oh absolutely go for it. There’s no harm in trying, you might surprise yourself.  And you might end up with the job of your dreams and if not you’ve maybe met some good pals, so absolutely go for it.

Are you glad you came to college? 

Absolutely! I went back to college in 2007/2008, and then I went on to University which was great, but I wasn’t keeping well at that time and didn’t fully complete my course, so that was really frustrating. It’s taken me a good five or six years to have the confidence to say “no, I need to change”. It took a lot of guts to come back, but I’m so glad I did. It’s changed my life, and although there is a lot of pressure I feel more confident than I did.

What are you going to do next/plans for the future?

My plan for the future is to combine my new qualification with something I enjoy.  I spent most of my life doing jobs I had to do.  Some great, some not so great, so hopefully I can find a job I can do because I want to do it, not because I need to do it.


To view more information about this course please click here.