South West College Alumna and current employee Jennifer Brown returned to education, achieving a Foundation Degree in Applied and Medical Science, juggling family and work-life via flexible and affordable learning at South West College. She is now inspiring the next generation of Scientists as an accomplished Lecturer at South West College after completing her Degree via the Open University.

Jennifer from Enniskillen left secondary school after her GCSE’s and started working full time. In pursuit of a new career, she joined South West College in 2010, studying an Access to Higher Education Diploma in Social Sciences part-time whilst continuing to work. Jennifer advanced her studies, completing a certificate in Counselling but knew her heart wasn’t in it.

As her love for Science had been ignited on the Access course and with excellent career prospects within the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields she progressed into higher education, studying a Foundation Degree in Applied & Medical Science at South West College, as it offered the flexibility and progression she needed as a working Mum.

“I found the College very welcoming, there was a friendly atmosphere, and the Lecturers were always helpful and willing. It was hard work, but the College have a great network of people to support students, and once you’re here, that’s clear to see."

She added: "Everyone is afforded a chance, and capabilities are assessed via an individual learning plan, which helps you achieve your ambitions. Every lecturer that has ever taught me has gone above and beyond. There is a real sense of community, and that’s why I continued to return here to study.”

Choosing a STEM pathway opened up many opportunities, enabling Jennifer to move forward into a new career as a Science Lab Technician at the South West College, Enniskillen Campus, which motivated her desire to teach.

She said: “Once I was settled in my role, I decided to complete my full Degree, studying through the Open University as distance learning was more suitable to me with a job and a family. The two-year Open degree pathway comprised modules in Astronomy, Infectious disease and Genetics, enabling me to top up my foundation degree to a full BSc Honours degree.”

Upon completion, Jennifer progressed within her career, accomplishing a part-time Lecturer role within the Science department at South West College, teaching on the BTEC level 3 programme.

She said: “I wouldn’t have ended up here without the support and encouragement from the staff within the College who have ended up becoming my colleagues and friends. The most significant thing I have learned on my educational journey is that if you want something and are willing to work for it, you can have it. But, more importantly, everyone’s path in life is different, and that’s ok; no two should be the same.”

Jennifer is grateful to South West College for the flexible career journey, which has been an integral step to achieving her career goals. She admits juggling everything was hard, and at times, she was ready to give up but says ‘it has all been worth it in the end’. She encourages others in a similar situation to just go for it.

“If you’re thinking of returning to education, SWC is very accessible in terms of access to education."

She explained: "It offers the flexibility to gain qualifications whilst balancing work and family commitments. It doesn’t matter what level you are qualified to or if you have zero qualifications; there are courses available to help you get to where you want to be.

If you’re unsure about what steps to take next or which course to pursue, South West College has an entire team that will help you make an informed decision and make the right choice. If you want something, you can have it, but you have to take the steps to get there.”

Jennifer is glad she took the steps and retrained into a fulfilling new career as it has provided her with a better work-life balance and a renewed sense of purpose.

She said: “I hope to continue teaching and studying. I want to help and encourage people from all backgrounds and prove that it doesn’t matter what anyone’s situation is; they all deserve to be on the path they want to be on and end up in a job they love.”

For further information and to apply, please visit:

SWC Progression Route