Students in the Erne Campus were treated to a morning of encouragement and advice from Health Care professionals who have been previous students at South West College (SWC). The panel consisted of seven local professionals with a wealth of experience in community development, mental health and social work. The students received tips for progression to their desired careers and all-important interview advice for those who are hoping to join the allied health degree courses at university.

Joining us for the event were:

Emma Weaver

Emma is the founder of 'Mental Wealth International', and began her Higher Education journey at Fermanagh College. Emma told the audience that her education journey was not in a straight row, but that she built on her skillset as she moved through her career, which led to the launch of "Mental Wealth International." Having first tried Childcare, Emma found, through placement, that her passion lay within Mental Health, and has since gone on to work in the area for over two decades.

Siobhan McCarney

Siobhan began her journey at SWC as a mature student, with the Access Diploma in Social Sciences and Humanities, then progressing to the Foundation Degree in Science in Health and Social Care and topping off with the UU Honours Degree in Health and Wellbeing. Now working in the Health and Social Care sector with Trinity Social Care Services, Siobhan intends to continue to diversify her education and apply for the Social Work Degree. Siobhan spoke about how she had left school and become a young parent, and it was only when she returned to education that her dyslexia was recognised. Siobhan encouraged the group by explaining that little steps are the way to go through your Health and Social Care journey.

Nicola Kerr

Nicola Kerr studied the HND Health and Social Care at SWC, and following graduation she worked for a family of 4 young men with fragile X syndrome. Nicola told the students that she learned most of what she knows from the real-life experience gained on placement. Now working as a senior support worker for POTENS, Nicola also reassured the student audience that lifetime career decisions don't need to be made at the college stage, you can move through your career as you grow. Nicola also told the audience that when she was at the college she would not have been able to stand up and talk in the way she was doing publicly, and that the confidence in your own abilities and career choice will come with time.

Davina Coulter

Davina, who is the regional coordinator for the Community Falls Programme within the Western Trust, echoed the story of other members of the panel, her pathway into Community work was not quite a straightforward path. Having moved to Belfast at only 16, she Initially she had wanted to become a nurse, but after working alongside her course found herself in work, progressing on to Assistant Manager Level at a care home. However, Davinan later returned to education to complete her HNC in Health and Social Care, and moved to work within the Western Trust. She explained to the students the vast opportunities to keep learning within Health and Social Care jobs, and the many job roles that they can take on with their qualifications.

Josie Doran

Josie and her daughter Lisa both enrolled in the Health and Social Care Foundation Degree. Josie had always felt a calling to the industry, and having made contacts through her previous job, and when her daughter joined the Fd, Josie followed a couple of years later. Josie completed her Social Work Degree ten years ago and is now a Social Work Manager at Western Health and Social Care Trust. Josie explained her unconvential journey into Social Work, the difference that the role makes within the community, and the wealth of opportunities available in the Fermanagh area.

Nathan Beckett

Currently working alongside Josie, Nathan is a final year Social Work student at QUB. Nathan studied the Foundation Degree in Science in Health and Social Care, and progressed to his degree, getting accepted on his first try. Nathan advised the students to use their placement experience within their interview, and talked to them about his placement journey so far.

Pawel Wesolokowski

Pawel had a calling for Social Work and went back to college to get his Access Diploma. Having applied for a degree in Social Work after this, he was not accepted, but returned to college for further learning on the HNC in Health and Social Care course to further his education ahead of a second application to Social Work . Following his HNC he joined the Ulster University Social Work Degree and is now completing his first year. He talked about how it is important to keep learning as you move forward and maintain resilience when you are applying for university or employment.

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