Iain Moffat
Social Sciences 2012-13 - New College Lanarkshire (Coatbridge)
2.1 MA (Hons) History 2017 - University of Glasgow
My name is Iain Moffat, I am 37 years old, and I am from Airdrie, North Lanarkshire. I grew up in a close-knit family and had a very happy childhood with my parents and two older brothers. My father, grandfather and great uncles were all coalmen in the family coal merchant business. The business then changed to tipper trucks delivering aggregates. My mother worked behind the bar in Airdrie Golf Club.  

School was okay for me. I wouldn't say I was massively popular but I was well liked by most people. I didn't have any dreams or aspirations while I was at school in terms of employment (and I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up), but I did enjoy learning. I was also a very fast runner at school and loved sports, so I always got picked to represent the school in County sports days. There is currently a cup in the school with my name engraved on it that had been given to students since the early 1900s! No one in my immediate family went to uni and neither did any of my close friends. University or college was never expected of me, as I wasn't the greatest at school. My parents just wanted to see me get a decent job that I enjoyed doing.  

 <2018_moffat05.jpg> I left school at the end of 4th year.  I felt it was pointless staying on, as I didn’t feel I was doing well enough academically, and I had managed to get an apprenticeship at a local engineering firm. Although I stayed with that firm until 2001, the apprenticeship ultimately went nowhere because the company changed hands several times, and I was finally made redundant after the third company went into administration. I wound up getting my HGV Class II license and worked a series of delivery jobs before finally settling down to drive tippers with my family in 2004. I was still doing that job when I met my wife, and we have since had two children.  

Life took a sudden turn for me in 2012 when, at the age of 32, I suffered a stroke. Luckily my wife acted very quickly and an ambulance was there within minutes. After a couple of weeks, I started to feel better and get back on my feet. However, I was paralysed down my entire right-hand side. I eventually regained most of my strength with my right side fully functioning again, although I'm left with some tiredness if I overdo things. Due to my stroke I lost my HGV license, and it was during this time that my wife suggested I go to college. We had discussed the possibility of me going to night school at some point to better myself, but nothing had ever come of it, and university had never crossed my mind. With my wife’s encouragement, however, I applied to what was then called Coatbridge College (now known as New College Lanarkshire) and was accepted into the SWAP West Access to Social Sciences programme.  

The year on the SWAP programme was very exciting, and I met some truly wonderful people in my class.  The work was fun and challenging.  As the course went on, it started to get really hard as I had never written an essay before or done any kind of maths above foundation level. The support from the lecturers was great, though. We were shown respect and treated as adults, which I found very uplifting. People actually took the time to explain things to me, and the support from my fellow classmates was second to none. We all supported each other, which helped to prevent people from dropping out when times got hard.  

After the SWAP programme ended I felt excited at the prospect of going to university, something that I never thought I would be able to ever do. I felt proud of myself for seeing the course through. I didn't know what to expect from university, only that it was going to be very difficult, but I was ready.  

 <iain.jpg> My transition from SWAP to university was good. The lecturers at New College Lanarkshire had been quite forthcoming with how hard university was going to be and so I felt I was quite prepared for what was about to come. I found first year relatively similar to college in the terms of difficulty, which made it all the more enjoyable. Also, quite a few of my classmates progressed to the University of Glasgow with me, and that made things a little easier, too. In addition, I met new friends and really enjoyed the classes I had chosen, and I found uni life to be more laid-back than college life. Third and fourth year were amazingly fantastic; third year was the hardest year by far, but it was my most successful.  

As the old saying goes: every cloud has a silver lining. This certainly seems to be the case for me. Suffering from a stroke actually worked out in my favour. I returned to education and eventually graduated in 2017 with a 2:1, and I now hold a Master of Arts (Honours) Degree from the University of Glasgow. My graduation ceremony was one of the proudest moments of my life. I have a great job at Tennent's Brewery that I enjoy, and I intend to continue advancing in my work over the next few years.  

My advice to current SWAP students moving on to university would be: don't panic; stay calm and ask for help if you need it. University is a life-changing experience, so take the time to enjoy it. I would highly recommend seeking out a mature students’ association within your university. I was president of the University of Glasgow's Mature Students’ Association for almost two years during my time at the University. I made some fantastic friends and had excellent experiences. The peer support within the MSA was great.


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