Denise Ford
Nursing at South Lanarkshire College (2007-8). * Graduated with a degree in Mental Health Nursing (UWS)
“I went to school in East Kilbride.  I didn’t like school at all and couldn’t wait to leave; it didn’t interest me at the time.  When I left I did shop work and other jobs. However, I’ve always wanted to be nurse, so I thought that I should pursue my dream.  A friend had seen an advert for SWAP courses in a local paper.  We both decided to do it together.  Applying was very straightforward and after interview I was offered a place within days.

“My first day at college was terrifying, because I hadn’t been to school for 26 years.  The initial step was hard, but everybody was in the same boat.  The whole experience was better than I expected, more relaxed and friendly.  Other students were of varied ages and everyone mixed and got on well. 

“The pace of work was good for me.  I found the first assignments difficult, but as the course went on, I managed my time better and had a better home/college balance.  The support from college was really good, particularly from our guidance tutor.  Juggling home and college was quite hard at times.  I felt as if my daughter missed out, but she’s proud of me now.  Balancing the budget was probably the hardest part and I had to continue to work.

“The course itself was great; I loved it.  I’d recommend it to anyone!  The best parts for me were psychology, stress management and the ‘mind stuff’.  There was a lot of variety, which I liked.  With time, the course got easier and I gained more confidence.  Before, I couldn’t have done this; I’d have been in a corner.  We went on university visits to Glasgow Caledonian and the University of the West of Scotland, which was a good preparation for what was to come. 

“Everything about the Programme was useful, really.  It taught me how to learn again.  At times, I doubted that I had a brain – SWAP taught me to learn.  It is one of the best things I’ve ever done.  The advice that I’d give to other SWAP students is that if you find it difficult at the start, don’t give up, it does get easier and it will all be worth it!

In ten years time, I see myself being a psychiatric nurse, which is what I have always wanted to do.” 
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