Mum-of-six Danielle builds a better life for her family, with help from Middlesbrough College

11 April 2022

43-year-old Danielle Purvis from Middlesbrough has proven that it’s never too late to follow your dreams and change your life. The mum-of-six battled struggles with her mental health and personal life, but is now thriving at a Russell Group University after successfully completing the Access to Higher Education Diploma with Middlesbrough College- and now she is on a mission to help others to do the same. 

After suffering with ill health and mental health struggles during the pandemic, stay-at-home mum Danielle decided she wanted to return to education to build a better life for herself and her family. She enrolled on the Access to Higher Education Diploma in Humanities and Social Sciences at Middlesbrough College with hopes of progressing to University. Now, Danielle is excelling at the prestigious University of York, studying for a degree in Social Policy and she is helping to inspire others with her new role at the University. She is employed as a Student Ambassador, specialising in outreach and access. As part of her role, Danielle visits under-represented communities to break down the barriers to University study and encourage those facing hardship to follow in her footsteps.  

Danielle said: “During the pandemic my mental health was at an all time low and I knew I wanted to do something with my life. When I was younger I wasn’t interested in school or College and I never fully understood the value of education, but after having my own children I realised just how important it is and the opportunities it can open up to you.  

“I decided to enrol onto the Access to Higher Education Diploma at Middlesbrough College because I wanted to challenge myself. I knew that I could do it and I was determined to have the chance to go to University; it is something that I had always wanted to do since starting my family.  

“Studying the Access course at Middlesbrough College was life changing. My confidence grew, I made new friends and the experience gave me the strength to change other aspects of my life. I left with the course with new skills, knowledge, and the ability to apply and study at University. I sometimes pinch myself that this is my life now- I’m studying at one of the most sought after Universities in the country and I’m helping and inspiring to change other people’s lives too.  

“The Access course at Middlesbrough College helped to pick me up from one of my lowest moments and for that I will be forever grateful. Of course there were challenges as I started the course in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, but with help and support from the team at College I learnt how to adapt to a hybrid way of learning. I developed new digital skills, expanded my knowledge and grew in confidence. It was the best feeling ever. I was finally doing something for myself.   

“My advice to anyone considering returning to education is to go for it. The support I received from Middlesbrough College was outstanding, I honestly loved every minute. I would look forward to lessons and enjoy the work. I also quickly made new friends who have become some the closest people in my life. I know that those friendships will last a lifetime. 

 “The College helped me to research different Universities and find a degree that was perfect for me. The team also supported me with my application and personal statement. I was delighted when I was offered a scholarship to study at the University of York- it was honestly a dream come true. 

“I’m now helping others who face barriers to access education in my role at the University. It is a brilliant job and something I’m very passionate about. I’m proud to share with others how I’ve changed my life for the better. Once I’ve completed my degree, I’m hoping to progress to policy making within the government.  

“I can’t thank the team at Middlesbrough College enough- I wouldn’t be where I am without studying the Access course! Choosing to return to education opened so many opportunities for me and turned my life around.” 

An Access to Higher Education Diploma is the perfect choice for mature students wanting to return to education. The diploma is designed for students who don’t currently have a Level 3 qualification such as a Level 3 BTEC or A Levels and want to progress to University.  

The flexible part-time qualification can be studied as a daytime or evening option to fit around family life and work. With small class sizes compared to Universities and all the individual support students need to ease back into education, this course will help students to succeed and reach their career goals. The Access Diploma is also FREE if students go on to complete a University level course. 

The Access course at Middlesbrough College helped to pick me up from one of my lowest moments and for that I will be forever grateful. Of course there were challenges as I started the course in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, but with help and support from the team at College I learnt how to adapt to a hybrid way of learning. I developed new digital skills, expanded my knowledge and grew in confidence. It was the best feeling ever. I was finally doing something for myself. 

Course: Access to Higher Education Diploma in Humanities and Social Sciences 

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