Carmen Tulloch

Working with Children, Young People and Families with Foundation Year - BA (Hons)

Growing up, Carmen had never given university a thought. After leaving school, she went on a Youth Training Scheme (YTS) course and during her work experience, she was offered a permanent job. It was only after her second child turned two, when she was 38, that she thought about returning to study.

"Being a stay at home mum was not for me and I felt that, if I wasn’t working, I need to be studying. This was my opportunity to do something I was passionate about and I signed up to start a course within three weeks of leaving work. I attended college for two years and found a love for studying.

I first visited BCU to speak to students about doing their placement at the children’s centre where I was volunteering. While I was there, I discovered what is now the Working with Children, Young People and Families degree. I fell in love with it straight away and asked about applying. At the time, I didn’t meet the entry requirements so I went away, got the relevant qualification and enquired again the following year. Unfortunately, the criteria had changed so I was no longer eligible. I also started a permanent role at the children’s centre so I gave up on my uni dream.

In early 2018 (four years on from my initial enquiry), something drew me back to the degree I had so loved. The name had changed but it still covered the areas I wanted and it had also introduced a foundation year option. I emailed one or two members of staff explaining my story and they invited me to an Open Day.

When I was made an unconditional offer, I was beside myself. During my foundation year I couldn’t honestly believe I’d made it here. The foundation course gave me confidence and I was so grateful for the opportunity.

There were challenges - the foundation course was every day, which meant I had to give up my part time job. I also worried about the later finish sessions and who would collect my children from after school club as all my family are in London. But I took a leap of faith and handed in my notice.

Everything was new to me; I’ve learnt so much and, even though many times I felt out of my depth, getting the assignments in, producing the work and getting the grades and feedback made me proud and instilled self-belief. My grades improved with each assignment from when I first started giving me a huge sense of accomplishment.

I’ve had lots of advice and support from tutors, personal tutors and the student support services in relation to assignments, finances and my career path. I love the learning and style in which we are taught and the tutors we've been blessed to have. From my first enquiry about the foundation year, I cannot fault the way in which BCU have made me feel welcome. It’s made me feel more committed to the course.

I’ve become more knowledgeable about things I probably didn’t really care about before becoming a student. I am more self-disciplined and organised with regards to the time and effort I need to put in to meet deadlines.

I have really enjoyed this degree and the wide topics we've explored. Along with the advocacy and mentoring roles I’ve taken on alongside my studying, I feel I’m already prepared for a wide range of roles once I graduate this summer.

I’ve had other opportunities too, like becoming a student ambassador, getting on board with Graduate+ and the Faculty’s High Achievers Recognition Scheme (HARS), and having a professional mentor. After my foundation year, I wanted to master academic writing and critical thinking in my assignments and for these to become second nature to me. Reflecting now, I’ve developed and grown academically, professionally, and personally and increased my employability. I’ve gained a deeper awareness of myself and have seen what I can achieve through sacrifice and determination; this is something I aim to pass onto the children, young people, and families I will have the pleasure of working with in future.

I’m on the home stretch of the final year of my degree and can now look back at the journey, which has been impacted upon heavily due to Covid. Adapting to new ways of learning and not having to have that physical social aspect or travel to and from uni, took a real toll in many ways. I love people, and travelling really helps to break up the day. On the other hand, the friendships I’ve made were a huge support, and the sincere, encouraging, and supporting staff across the many departments at BCU have outweighed the negative impact of the pandemic.

For me I AM BCU means the doors to opportunities, the place of comfort where people care and believe in me, and my place of flourishing authentically.”

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