Kate Newby had barely started a two-year Foundation Degree in Learning Support at the University of Worcester when she was struck by a personal tragedy. Her husband died suddenly, leaving her with three small sons.
“Shortly afterwards I realised I was pregnant with my daughter. It would have been easy to have given it all up at that point, but it is thanks largely to one of my tutors, Jean Bourne, who was the course leader that I continued,” Kate said. “She was very compassionate and nurturing, and encouraged me to continue by taking my time and doing it in small steps. One of proudest days of my life was when I graduated and my parents and children were there to see it.”
After completing her foundation degree, Kate then entered the second year of a BA (Hons) degree in Primary Initial Teacher Education at Worcester, from which she graduated with a 2:1. She had been concerned about being a mature student and the eldest among her course-mates, but she need not have worried.
“The whole group was very supportive towards each other and the teaching staff could not have helped us more,” she said.
“I had previously worked as a police officer in east London but both my husband and I left the force and moved back to my home town, as for me the job was incompatible with having children. I needed a new career and one where I could provide a real future for my children. This became doubly important once I was widowed.”
The degree course met Kate’s needs and the University was within each reach of her home and family. She added: “The campus had a crèche which was invaluable and made life so much easier for me. I was particularly struck with the close community atmosphere at the University which, for younger students, particularly, is important when moving from home.”