James Young
No matter how old you are, or what your family's educational background is, it’s never too late to make that difference in your life if you want it, as long as you’re prepared to work at it.
My name is James Young, and I am 37 years old. I recently completed a Bachelor of Engineering degree at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh and I am currently working towards my Honours degree. I would like to share my journey getting to this stage.
Going back to my teenage years, I was never very interested in education, simply because my parents were never interested in my academic achievements. It wasn’t because they didn’t care, but that none of my family were very well educated or interested in their own education. I left school at 16 with fairly reasonable results, but nothing that MENSA would be interested in.
After a few unskilled jobs, I decided to do an apprenticeship in fabrication and welding at the age of 19. This was a 4 year apprenticeship, and at the time, the engineering economy was strong, and we were promised well-paid jobs at the end of it. As it happened, the country went into recession in the early 90’s, and when the apprenticeship was over, the pay wasn’t much more than unskilled work.
It was 10 years after I completed my apprenticeship, and 1 marriage later, I moved back to my home town of Kelso, and engineering work was thin on the ground. After 2 months of unemployment I decided to go to my local careers officer and find out if there were any other lines of employment that I could take. He suggested that I go back into education, and being from an engineering background, he gave me the contact details for an access to engineering course at Edinburgh’s Telford College. I missed the start of the course, but because of my engineering background, I was accepted onto the 6 month Fast Track course.
As I was now 33 years old, and a lot wiser, I studied hard and found that I was actually pretty good at the academic stuff, passed with flying colours, and at the end of the course I was accepted into Heriot-Watt. Now the prospects are endless for me. I was invited to apply for a job in my home town as a Mechanical Engineer, and was offered double the money I was earning as a Fabricator/Welder. I’m now waiting for an interview within the next month, and they are even prepared to allow me to complete my Honours degree.

I would like to wish everyone good luck in their endeavours.
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