Love to learn - Amanda's story part two Welcome to part two of Amanda's love to learn story. Despite gaining a degree, I had never really thought about what I would do after university, no one in my family or extended family having had a career requiring a degree, so I didn’t really have the knowledge or social capital to even begin thinking about career options – except I knew for sure I didn’t want to be a French teacher in a secondary school. Starting out... I decided to do some further learning as the internet was a brand spanking new idea and personal computers were appearing for the first time in public spaces like libraries and offices. At that time there was an organisation in Manchester called the Women’s Electronic Village Hall, and they were offering free courses to women to learn how to undertake the basic computing tasks we all take for granted today. In 1991 personal computers were still mysterious and like the stuff of science fiction. I did a series of part-time jobs and ended up doing 2 courses over a year to gain more skills, and overcame my fear of technology, but I still couldn’t decide what I wanted to do. I felt scared of committing myself to something that trapped me in a dead-end job, but also lacked the self-assurance to aim high and be more ambitious for myself. Decision time... So I carried on drifting – a few years later getting a Teaching English as Second or Other Language (TESOL) qualification, travelling in Europe, doing some teaching and part-time or seasonal jobs on farms and at festivals. It wasn’t until I had my son in 2002 that I really started to feel like I had to give myself a good talking to and stop wasting my ability. When he was still very young I went back to university, and thanks to EU funding to support course costs as well as a small bursary, won a place on a Masters course in International Natural Resource Management at Bangor University. Next steps.... I had done fundraising and a study visit with Action Aid in India whilst in the 6th form and had always harboured a dream of somehow working in this sector, but had never known where to begin in trying to make it happen, largely based on a lack of confidence in myself. However, this Masters was everything I had ever dreamed learning could be. I just could not get enough of the subject and took being a teacher’s pet to the next level! The people on the course were amazing too – mostly mature students like me and from as far away as Malawi, Syria, Ethiopia and Sudan as well as the UK, Portugal, Spain and Germany – and made the sessions lively, challenging and also brought a range of experience and opinions to the debate. It's never too late to learn... The course was very demanding and intensive, but despite initial reservations about returning to university, I discovered as a mature student I was deeply committed to learning, absolutely obsessive about the subject and able to excel through hard work and a drive I had never had before. When the opportunity came to spend 2 months overseas to research my thesis I was overjoyed to go to Mali, living the dream of using my French to carry out my research. When I finished my Masters I found I had earned a distinction and finally felt like I had a strong career path in mind despite my years ‘out in the wilderness’, proving it’s never too late to learn and take a new direction in life. Education is a key to unlock so many doors. I went on to be accepted onto a PhD course up in Glasgow, furthering my research in the field of international development, gender equity and agriculture to gradually start working my way to my job at the College today.