I attended Heart of Worcestershire (HOW) College for four years, completing both Further Education and Higher Education. I graduated from my Higher National Diploma (HND) in June 2019. During my last two years on the HND I was a student representative for the group, as well as working alongside my peers with Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership on a project involving Virtual Reality (VR).
I have always been interested in front end development and emerging technologies, and the college enabled me to work with both. One of my difficulties at the beginning was with dyslexia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and communicating on a professional level. Regardless of any difficulties I came across or had, the lecturers were always very positive and pushed me to improve and better myself. Their encouragement helped me speak to professionals when taking part in events, as well as improving my written assignments therefore allowing me to gain distinctions through both levels.
Due to the HOW College and the team, I was given opportunities to develop through speaking with local employers at an Employer Fayre, work experience, open day events, Worcestershire Skills Show and going to London to the Huawei conference to look at new and emerging technologies.
In my final year, alongside two other colleagues, I produced a working prototype of a VR museum for local businesses. The support and opportunities given to me on this program of study inspired me to become a lecturer.
The CODE department has a dedicated employability hub which allows local businesses to come along and support students
I’m currently working for an independent company, GameDr, developing science educational apps as well as offering a Game workshop to 12-19-year olds. In addition, I have recently signed up for Level 5 Diploma in Education and Training and I have returned to HOW College as an hourly paid lecturer, with my previous tutor as my mentor.
In my time as a student at HOW College there have been many changes, the main and most beneficial one would be the revamp of the whole IT department. This new remodel has given me, and all present and future students, a step up into the world of technology. Due to the Centre of Digital Engineering (CODE) department now having devices such as VR headsets, Phablets supporting Augmented Reality (AR), raspberry Pi’s and Arduino kit sets it allowed us to practice our skills, while continuing our course.
Having this new and improved environment gave the College a more professional, modern look and feel. Given this, there were also official rooms used for certain classes, such as a networking classroom and an internal server room. A separate AR and VR room was also being designed and built. The new equipment and environment opened up opportunities such as prototyping VR apps for our Local Enterprise Partnership.
I have grown not only academically but also with my confidence and self-awareness in professional environments.
In addition to gaining experience with new technology, I was also able to develop interview skills during my time at the College. The CODE department has a dedicated employability hub which allows local businesses to come along and support students, such as myself, to improve on our interviewing techniques with eventually aiming to gain employment. One of my major difficulties was being able to communicate clearly and appropriately; taking part in mock interviews helped me gain confidence and resulted in more positive results from interviews.
I was also able to use this employability hub to meet with GameDr and encouraging the work relationship to grow, while also guiding and advising me on dealing with certain aspects of gain self-paid employment with GameDr.
During my four years of studying, I have grown not only academically but also with my confidence and self-awareness in professional environments. I feel if it wasn’t for the support of the lecturers, I wouldn’t have had this success. In fact, I wouldn’t have stuck with the earlier lower level two and level three studies! I was the oldest student on the course and all of my needs were met, and the staff’s attitudes towards me being the oldest student were to treat me as the mature student I was, and not limit me to the same levels as the less mature students. They were able to adapt to my personal needs.
Since returning to HOW College as a member of staff, the positivity in my ability to teach classes has been non-stop, along with constant mentoring and support from the whole team, as well as my mentor. I can honestly say returning to education was a big and anxious step. I am very glad that I came to HOW college and I felt the true passion and knowledge which all tutors shared, as it helped on my journey and influenced what areas of subject teaching that I would succeed in the most. I am very happy to be able to carry this on and share my experiences and knowledge with the next working generation.