Shrewsbury College HE student - Graduating against the odds.

Returning to education has led to a new career and a new business for 39-year-old Julie Harper, who this week graduates with a Foundation degree (FdSc) in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice (Aromatherapy and Reflexology) from Staffordshire University, which she studied at Shrewsbury College.

Julie, from Shrewsbury, suffers from dyspraxia and dyscalculia – meaning she has difficulty with multiple tasks, directions, spoken word and numbers. But Julie put all of her misgivings to one side and decided to take the plunge, enrolling on a course at Shrewsbury College. 

Julie commented: “I left school in 1991 with 2 GCSEs – one in English and one in Art. I struggled – not knowing what I wanted to do and just drifted from job to job, mainly in retail. I have always been a people person so I enjoyed roles where I was able to interact.”

Julie and her husband then set up their own business selling jewellery making components, but this unfortunately went into administration in 2009.

“When the business ended I set up a market stall where I would teach people how to make jewellery – but then I caught pneumonia and everything changed.”

Julie found that she was unable to carry on working on her stall and whilst recuperating she began to re-evaluate what she wanted to do. This led to her enrolling at Shrewsbury College to study for a Diploma in Complementary Therapies, before being persuaded to continue on to the Foundation degree by her tutor.

“Again, I had my misgivings and I wasn’t sure I could do it, but I went for it. It opened up a whole new world to me – it made me realise a side of myself I didn’t know existed. I now have my own practice which I run from home and in July I will be completing a course in Medical Acupuncture – a course that is only available to those with certain qualifications.

“Being able to complete my degree locally through the College was invaluable to me – it meant I was still able to work and earn as well as being around for my daughter. The College is only 10 minutes away from home so this was a huge advantage as well. It was also a seamless transition from my Level 3 course to my degree course – I felt more comfortable because I knew the people and I knew where everything was – it made it less daunting.”

For more information about Higher Education courses at Shrewsbury College, please call 01743 342411 or come along to our next advice event on Thursday, 27 August, 5-7pm  

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