Today I find myself sat here, reminiscing over the past 9 years.

Nine years ago, I began a journey of re-education for myself. Having heard about a service called ‘Horizons Community Learning’ that was local to me and designed to provide adults like myself the opportunity to re-do their GCSE’s and other subjects or courses.

I was 30 years old, married with very little self-confidence and a lot of self-doubt. I had two children aged 2 years old and 5 weeks old and I worked mostly full-time nights as a care assistant, with a husband who worked full-time too.

I had left school as a teenager with poor grades, mostly GCSE grades of D-F. I had always worked hard since leaving school yet I had an underlying sense of discontent with myself for not having achieved more.

For many years I felt that I would not be able to pursue a career in healthcare as I did not have the qualifications to do so. This began to change when I started with Horizons. Although 9 years ago I still did not imagine myself where I am today, it was just the start I needed.

So, I began my maths GCSE, it was very difficult for me as maths was my hardest subject to understand, however, the support was amazing. I was fortunate enough to use Horizon’s creche for my two children whilst I was in the lessons. Once I had completed the maths course and gained the qualification I sought, I signed up to do the GCSE English and the following year the GCSE Science, again, having gained the necessary qualifications I aimed for.

The 3 years studying with Horizons was difficult at times, the work load sometimes felt impossible whilst trying to raise my children and work too, but I managed, through organisation and time management and sheer determination. Some people thought I was silly to try and better myself at my age, believing it would not lead to anything more, but they were wrong.

I then completed a Level 3 Diploma in Health and Social Care which really solidified my decision to pursue a career in healthcare.

Having achieved the required grades in Maths, English and Science through Horizons, I was then accepted in to Hastings College to start an Access to Higher Education Diploma course. This was incredibly difficult, but again, I had come this far so it was worth at least trying to see if this was achievable. And it was, I completed the course with most of my grades at distinction level (equivalent to an A level rating).

It is important for me to explain that even at this stage in my learning path, my self-confidence had improved, but only just. I still had self-doubts and lacked in my own view of what I was capable of. However, if you have felt doubts about yourself for so many years, these will not just vanish overnight, but you must persist.

The next step in my learning journey was a turning point for me. Having achieved the necessary grades at college to apply to The University of Brighton for the degree course in Nursing (adult branch), in my heart I really did not believe I was intelligent enough to be able to gain entry on to a course at such a high-level of learning, but that did not stop me from trying. I went through a vigorous application procedure with the spaces in high demand. I cannot express how shocked and delighted I was to then be offered a place.

I began my nursing degree in February 2015 and have loved the experience. It is now September 2017 and here I am, just a few months away from completion and becoming a registered nurse.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my years of re-education, although they have been difficult at times, they have also been incredibly rewarding.

My children are now 9 & 11 and they tell me so often how proud they are of me for what I have achieved. My experience has encouraged them to try their best too, they understand the importance of education and the doors it can open for their future careers.

I could not have even began this journey of self-discovery without the Horizons services, their support and encouragement and belief that everyone deserves a chance.

So, this is a huge thank you to Horizons, you really have changed my life and probably my children’s lives too.

I will be forever grateful.