Going Full Circle - by Eileen O’Neil, BoM member
My journey through education was slow to take off and had a few false starts, I was an unwilling participant in the early years. At my core there is a desire to be outdoors, to move, to walk, to run, to climb. Being confined to a desk has always been torturous to my physical and psychological well- being. Play was where my young self was happiest, there were no limits to the joy this type of activity produced within me. By the end of my primary and secondary education, I had achieved more than I thought I would but nowhere near what was required to enter further education, so off to work I went. I derived pleasure from the pursuit of employment and had no issues finding jobs. However, by 1995 (aged 25) I understood that to earn a salary which reflected my capabilities, I required this thing called “A Degree” as without it there would be no progression. I resisted for a while but in the end, there was no option.
Not having the courage or the finances to apply directly to university, I applied via a two-year part time “Access to Learning” in Science and Technology course at North Glasgow College (now known as Glasgow Kelvin Collage), a life changing decision. The location of a Further Educational (FE) college in my local community allowed me to drop off and pick up my children. My son (aged 2 at the time) was offered a place at the FE nursery, which gave me the support I needed to focus on my studies. The two years which followed nurtured me in so many ways, my confidence began to emerge as I evolved into education. I began to understand the organic nature of a step by step process to learning. I was encouraged along the way by students and teachers in equal measure. The FE experience gave me the courage to believe in myself and allowed me to look outside of my own self-imposed limitations. At the end of the two years I was presented with the Student of the Year Award in Science and Technology and progressed to university in the September 1999.
As one of 8 children from the East End of Glasgow I became the first in my family to enter into a Further Educational environment (1998), first to attain a Degree (Risk Management - 2002), a Master’s (Research Methodology - 2016) and I am currently studying towards my Professional Doctorate at Glasgow Caledonian University.
In March 2018 (20 years on), I returned to Kelvin Collage, going full circle in my educational journey. I was successfully co-opted onto the Board for Audit and Risk. I aim to bring 20 years of Risk Management experience to the academic environment, underpinned by change in the diversity of education and the speed and reach of technologies. More importunately I bring with me a profound sense of gratitude to the FE community for the opportunity and advancement in my own psychological and economic wellbeing. My journey through education is testament to both students and staff in the FE environment and it is the first step to breaking though limitations in our own minds and to take the first step to psychological and economic wellbeing.