Returning to college as an adult can be a daunting prospect for many, including Nikki Daly, who joined Leeds City College at 25 years old after working as a self-employed property maintenance worker for many years.
Regardless of age, lifelong learning gives adults the chance to transform their lives by embarking on a new career journey, which is exactly what Nikki did when she began studying childcare at college.
A sense of purpose
After first graduating from sixth form many years ago, Nikki struggled to find a fulfilling role that she was passionate about.
“Although being a self-employed property maintenance worker had financial benefits, this was not a role I wanted to pursue long-term. I needed to follow a career path that made me happy, and working with children had always been a desire of mine.
“I first rejoined education by studying Children and Young People’s Workforce Level 3, and then I progressed onto University Centre Leeds to study a Foundation Degree in Children’s Care, Learning and Development and then subsequently completed my BA (Hons).
“During many of my lessons, I was the only mature learner within the group which was initially daunting. However, my tutors were incredibly supportive, placing me in a group which was suitable and allowed me to reach my full potential.
“Returning to education after so long did have its hurdles, but once I started completing and submitting assignments, my confidence grew and I began to develop a real passion for my subject. The more I learnt, the happier I felt – so I knew I’d made the right choice.”
8 years in education
Nikki also completed a top-up degree, PGCE and Masters Degree at University Centre Leeds.
“Upon completion of my top-up degree, I developed a keen interest in supporting adult learners, after witnessing first-hand how valuable lifelong learning is. Many of my lecturers commented on how my skills and abilities lended themselves to teaching, therefore recommended a PGCE to help build my career in education.
“Following my PGCE, I gained employment with University Centre Leeds and decided to enrol on my Master’s Degree which shaped me into the higher education lecturer I am today. Not only did it give me a wide understanding of the education sector, but it supported me to develop innovative approaches to teaching and learning while supporting adult learners.
“I am immensely proud of all my achievements since rejoining education, especially the ability to adapt to academic work after many years and managing to balance work, study and my social life.
“The encouragement I received from my tutors really inspired me to aim higher and build a successful career; equipping me with lifelong skills such as problem-solving, team-work and motivation.”
Advocate for adult learning
This year, University Centre Leeds and Leeds City College are involved in the Festival of Learning, a national campaign which celebrates adult learning.
“The Festival of Learning is a great opportunity for adults to build confidence, learn new skills and give them the inspiration to change their career or pursue something different. The events planned will showcase the opportunities available to adult learners across the region, allowing them to increase employability and boost wellbeing.
“I would recommend lifelong learning to everyone. Through this process, I have not only developed an in-depth understanding of working in the education sector, but have also learnt how to work effectively in a highly motivated team.
“I currently work at University Centre Leeds within the Teacher Training, Learning and Development department as a Higher Education Lecturer. I feel privileged to be able to motivate and inspire learners to achieve their best possible results while planning and delivering high quality teaching.
“I am committed to sharing my story to empower adults across the region to engage in lifelong learning. The work I’ve achieved so far makes me incredibly proud, and in the future I’d love to complete a PhD.”
Read more about the Festival of Learning and how to get involved here.