A Bradley Stoke woman has gained a first class honours degree from the Open University (OU), nine years after depression forced her to quit her studies at Plymouth University.
Michelle Morton, a teaching assistant at St Bonaventure’s school, Bishopston,was awarded her degree at a ceremony in Torquay on Saturday 17th April.
She says her BSc in Social Sciences will now help her towards her dream career of working in children’s health promotion.
Michelle went to university after leaving school and began studying Psychology, before changing to Sociology with Criminal Justice Studies.
But by her second year of university she was having trouble coping with her studies.
“At the time I didn’t realise it, but I actually had depression.”
“I just thought I was unhappy. I went to the doctors after leaving uni and was put on anti-depressants.”
She began working as a childcare assistant in a nursery, and started to study part-time with the OU seven years ago – though juggling work and studying was not easy.
“If you are trying to work and study, you have to be prepared to sacrifice your social life for a while. But if you really want it, you just get on and do it. It’s a personal challenge really.”
When her final module started, she gave up her job so that she could concentrate on her studies and her then boyfriend Matthew Pioli supported her as she became a self-employed childcare worker, giving her increased flexibility to balance work and study.
Michelle, who recently became engaged to Matthew, said:
“I’m so pleased with my result – I’ve had fantastic support from my family and from my fiance Matthew – they’ve been brilliant.”
“I cannot recommend the Open University more – I’d recommend it to anybody at any age, even if you just want to feel like you’re using your brain. The sense of achievement it gives you is just amazing. It just gave me that boost to know that I could achieve things.”
Speaking prior to last month’s graduation ceremony, Linda Brightman, the Open University’s Regional Director for the South West, said:
“Michelle’s achievement cannot be underestimated, and this goes for all our graduates who will be proudly accepting their degrees this weekend.”
“Open University students often work full or part time, and many also have to fit in family life alongside their studies, so studying with the OU can be challenging. But the rewards it brings are well worth it – it gives a great sense of personal achievement and it can open up new career opportunities.”
The Open University is the largest academic institution in the UK and a world leader in flexible distance learning. Since it began in 1969, the OU has taught more than two million students and currently has more than 229,000 students, including more than 25,000 overseas.
Students learn in their own time using course materials, online activities and content, web-based forums and tutorials and through tutor groups and residential schools.
For further information on studying with the Open University, see www3.open.ac.uk/study.
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