Cheree Ann Campbell
Humanities GKC Easterhouse 2012-13 >> Strathclyde University (Primary Ed)
Hi, I'm Cheree. I've just turned 26 and I'm from the East End of Glasgow. My mum and dad owned an ice cream van when I was growing up and neither one of them ever went to uni. My two older brothers left school and went straight into work, so I'm the first in my family to go to university.   Where I grew up (in Barlanark) you never really hear a lot about going to university. Usually most people just leave school as soon as they can, and start working.  

I always enjoyed reading and learning. My parents kept telling me I was smart and that I should do something. Although I loved primary school, when I got into secondary school I made new friends and I was more worried about trying to "fit in" than I was about doing academic work.  I did get my Standard Grades, but I left after that, at age 16. I now regret doing that, but at the time that's just all I was interested in.  And I don’t remember anyone at my school ever talking to me about doing anything else. No one ever pushed me to stay on and try to get the qualifications for university. It just wasn’t discussed with me.  Anyway, I was more focussed on getting a job and getting some money, so that’s what I did.

After leaving school, I worked at admin jobs and stuff like that. I moved out of my parents’ house and started paying rent on my own house. I quickly realised that all I was doing was working to pay the bills -- I never had any money left over for anything else. I wanted something better for myself, but by that time I just didn't have the confidence. I thought about it a lot and one day I just decided, Right, I’ve got to do it now or I will never do it.  My partner and I have been together for nine years and, although we don’t have any children, if we ever did have children in future, we would want a better life for them.    

Eventually, I took the plunge and applied for the SWAP programme at college, thinking that I would just go for it, and see what would happen…. Then I got an interview, so I decided to go along to that and see what would happen.... Then I got a place on the Programme and I was nervous about it but, again, I just decided to go along and give it a try to see what it was like. Next thing I knew, I was applying to university -- and now I've just finished my first year at university!    

I really enjoyed my time at college and met some lovely people there. On the first day, I was absolutely terrified.  I saw one other girl sitting on her own who looked as scared as I was feeling. When everyone got there, we did some icebreakers and started to get to know each other and gradually I felt more relaxed.  The college I went to is in the East End of Glasgow so there were people like myself there, people from my own kind of neighbourhood and the same kind of family background. And there was a range of ages, too, which was really good - people in their early 20s up to mid-40s or so.    

That year in college had a huge, huge impact on me. I didn't think that such a short time in college could change me so much. Even people in my family noticed a difference in me, especially in terms of my self-confidence.  Standing up in front of a group to give a presentation used to be my worst nightmare. The first time I had to do it, my hands were shaking, my legs were shaking. I thought I was going to fall over. But my confidence grew and eventually I got more comfortable with it. In fact, people tell me now that I seem to have a talent for public speaking!    

In moving from college up to university, I was a bit worried about being able to meet the standard of work. I had done really well in my work at college but, once again, I felt apprehensive about uni. And the first few weeks at uni were a bit intimidating. The campus is all over the place, classes are huge; some lectures could have hundreds of people in them. And I had to learn new things, like how to upload my work to a web site. It took me a while to get used to all of that because it was out of my comfort zone, but I've settled in now and don't have any problems with it.  I just don't think I would have managed uni without having done the college course first.  

When you are getting ready to move from college to university, my best advice is that even if you do feel overwhelmed and out of your comfort zone at the start, just stick with it.  At first I was thinking, Oh, I need to leave! I was stressing out. But after a few weeks, I felt totally different, more relaxed and settled down. So remember that it will get better and you will settle in.        

My original plan at college had been to apply for Primary Teaching but then I thought better of it. I had trouble getting a placement and felt I wasn't in a good position to get a place so I decided to just apply to do a Social Sciences degree at Strathclyde.  In first year at uni, I studied Education, English and Journalism as my three subjects. As part of my Education class, I got a placement at Barlinnie Prison, where I got the chance to work with the children of the prisoners there. I really enjoyed it and did well. I was then offered a chance by the University to interview for a place on their Primary Education programme and I got in! So now I’m studying towards my teaching qualification and plan someday to teach in a primary school.  

I would just like to say that I highly recommend doing a SWAP Access programme. I benefited hugely from it both academically and personally. Everything totally changed for me and if it wasn't for the Programme I wouldn't be able to do what I'm doing now. It was a huge, huge help.  If you are feeling that you're not from the “right” part of town, or you can't do it because no one is your family has ever done it, don't believe it. I'm the first in my family to go to university and I'm doing well, and passing everything.  It's the best thing I've ever done.   

If it's what you want, have the courage to go for it.         
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