Access to Higher Education, Mature learners, Student Experience, Student Stories, Widening Participation

From Liverpool to Auchinleck, by Sandie Duffy

Today I handed in my notice, I am leaving the job I have done for 12 years, the job that pays the mortgage, the bills and keeps the teenage son in food.  In seven weeks, I will be starting as a first year undergraduate at the University of Liverpool studying Irish Studies.

My name is Sandie and I am 54. I left school 38 years ago with a couple of CSEs – that’s what we got before O levels.  I had no clue somebody from a Secondary Modern School could go to university, all I knew was I had to find a job.  The only thing my mum ever made me do was learn to type, and that was my ticket to the world of work.  Various jobs mostly clerical, solicitors, hospitals, insurance companies followed over the years. I had no clue what I wanted to do, never had a career goal, except to earn enough money to get through the week.  When I had my son and ended up a single mum, I had to find work that would fit in around him, so I got a job working for University of Liverpool as a cleaner, and that’s the job I have just handed my notice in on.

My friend did Go Higher the year before me, I missed that year because I had a heart attack.  My manager in work actually passed the information about Go Higher to me, and encouraged me to apply, and when I got a place, she allowed me the time off to do it.  And that is the single best thing a boss has ever done for me.

Go Higher is one full day a week on campus, and the majority of the work is done at home, so it is up to you how much you study and how well you do.  But just because you are doing home study, you are never on your own, there is so much support, lecturers, tutors, learning mentors, the admin staff, everybody is so committed to being there for you.  You will also get help and support from your fellow Go Highers, you are all in the same boat, all a bit terrified, all about to pack it in, but I promise you, it will be the single best thing you will ever do.

I have experienced so many things, read books I never thought I would. I didn’t enjoy all of them (still can’t get on with Virginia Woolf), loved philosophy and Simone de Beauvoir, I didn’t understand a lot of it, but I really enjoyed it. Close reading has been my favourite thing to learn. Our tutor James is so good at teaching how its done, how to get a 1500 word essay from five lines of a poem, its amazing to have your mind expanded, and if that sounds cheesy, I’m sorry, but that’s what happens.

Go Higher opens your mind, and once its opened you just want more.

At the end of my Go Higher year I got to go away to Boswell’s House in Auchinleck in Scotland.  There was eleven of us, nine Go Highers and two tutors.  We had an amazing week, the house is a

Landmark Trust property, it’s in the middle of beautiful countryside, our nearest neighbours were the Highland cows in the front garden.  While the rest of the country, including Liverpool, were getting torrential rain, we had glorious sunshine.  We did do some work, some discussion on the Enlightenment and a brilliant demonstration from James, glow in the dark sea water. We also had a day in Glasgow, a brilliant city, and one I intend to visit again.  I can honestly say; I would never have stayed in a place like it without Go Higher.

So, in seven weeks I become a student, I have the knowledge and skills Go Higher have taught me to do this, I cannot wait, it’s going to be a long seven weeks.

Auchinleck with Go Higher Students June 2019

2 thoughts on “From Liverpool to Auchinleck, by Sandie Duffy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.