Muzingaye Ngwenya
2014/15: Access to Humanities at GKC City
2015/16: HNC Working with Communities GKC Easterhouse
2016/17-2018/19: BA Community Development at the University of Glasgow
Graduated June 2019.
About Me
My name is Muzi and I'm 33 years old. I'm originally from Zimbabwe. I completed the Access to Humanities programme, then the HNC Working with Communities. I now have a place on the BA Community Development at the University of Glasgow, entering into second year.  

I am the youngest of three children; I have two older sisters. Our dad was a big believer in education. He had a diploma and he did administrative work. As we were growing up, it was always his aim that all of his children should get higher qualifications than he had. Our mum was a nurse, and she was what we would call now a "lifelong learner". She also encouraged us all towards education. However, we did not have the opportunity to progress to higher education immediately after school due to the situation we were in at the time  

I was a good student during primary school and the first few years of secondary school. In third and fourth year, I was not the best, but I improved by the end and managed to get my A-levels and enough points to get into university; however I didn't have enough money to pay for tuition, so I couldn't go.  

At that time, it wasn't easy to get work in Zimbabwe. It was quite normal to go several months without any work at all. After finishing school, I spent the next five years taking short-term contracts, often as a language tutor for children. However, the contracts might only last a couple of months, and then I was out of work again.  

When I was 26 years old, I got married to a woman who is also from Zimbabwe. We had our first son the following year. He is now six years old. We moved to Scotland a few years ago and we now have a second son, who is two years old.                

Returning to Education
After arriving in Scotland to start a new life, I began working but I still always thought about my old dream of going to university. I enjoy learning, and I wanted to do something to improve my circumstances, so I enrolled on a "Steps to Social Science" course at Glasgow Kelvin College. There I met a lecturer named Dawn Jackson who told me about the SWAP programme. I applied for it, and got a place!  

The SWAP programme was great. By the time I enrolled, I had quite a few challenges to deal with. I had a job working with children in after-school care, I had a young family to look after, and I had a full-time college course to keep up with. Time management was a big issue.  

One thing that helped me so much was the Prep for HE unit on the SWAP programme. There were some tools in that unit, such as the Taking Stock exercises and the "to-do" lists that helped me a lot. I managed to reflect on where I was coming from, where I was heading, and how to prioritise things that needed to be done. Those skills have also helped me very much in doing my HNC.  

My tutors on the SWAP programme were so helpful, and very approachable. I could ask questions and clarify things if I didn't understand. They were very supportive.  

One of the main skills I developed on the SWAP programme was the skill of academic writing. As a consequence, I have found it relatively easy on the HNC to do my essays. Another skill I gained was the ability to do research. I learned not to rely too much only on what I learned in the classroom from the lecturer, but to research further on my own. It helped me to become an independent student.  

Because I had already grasped those study skills by doing the Prep for HE and getting help from my lecturers throughout the year, they were already stored in my head when I entered into Higher Education. I managed very well on my HNC Working with Communities, getting an 'A' on my graded unit.  

Looking Ahead  
I hope the same study skills will help me at university, too, because now I will have a placement to add to the mix. As I enter into year two at university, I'll be on placement two days per week, working two days per week, and in university two days per week, leaving only one day "off" for my family, for coursework, and to rest!  

I am feeling quite excited about starting university.  I'm aware there's going to be a lot of pressure (although I'm not quite sure how much "a lot" is)! But I think I will manage. When I was doing the SWAP programme, I felt a lot of pressure from all subjects around April/May because we had assignments due all at the same time from three or four different classes. Having gone through that process already, I have developed some skills in dealing with that sort of pressure.  

When I was still at school, I had a guidance tutor who was inspiring. When I went to him for help, I got the answers I needed, only to realise that he had never actually told me what to do or given me straight advice; instead, he signposted me and I found the answers myself.  As a result, I have a passion for empowering people to find their own solutions to life's difficulties. Looking ahead to the future, I am thinking of doing something like life-coaching in a community setting.                

If you're planning to return to education as an adult and you want to be successful, one thing you must commit to do is to come to class every day. Try not to miss a single lecture or a class if you can help it.  

Also, you need to adopt the right mindset right from the start. If you have a goal and you want to reach it, choose a positive attitude and never give up on achieving it. Go for it, and don't come back empty-handed!

UPDATE 2019: 

Muzi has been in touch to let us know that he has graduated from the University of Glasgow with an Honours degree in Community Development (June 2019) 


He also reports that he and his wife welcomed the arrival of a fourth child back in April 2019, just when the deadline for his final dissertation was approaching. As Muzi says, he has been "busy, busy, busy" lately; however, once life calms down a wee bit, he intends to further his studies as a post-graduate student. 

You can do it, Muzi! Good luck and best wishes from SWAP! 
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