Blog post

From Access to BSc (Hons)

Nigel left full-time work to start his university journey. Here, he shares his experience of progression - from Access to BSc (Hons) - and the support he's had along the way.

By Nigel Duffus - 4 January 2019

My journey into university life began with a desire to achieve greater fulfilment by pursuing a career that enables me to not only earn a living, but help others to live healthier lives. Prior to enrolling on an Access course, I had been working in full time administration for two years. Putting an end to this career was not an easy decision; it not only meant less income, but saying goodbye to colleagues I had built a strong, positive relationship with.

Making the transition from work back to education was not without its difficulties. The challenges included searching for part time work, and going through what seemed like endless paperwork, to completing my application for a student loan. However, instead of allowing myself to get discouraged and agitated, I used these setbacks as a launching pad that would propel me into a whole year of successful achievements on my course of choice - Health Science.

Through research, I came to understand that the University of Derby is attractive to students as it is an aspirational, learner-friendly environment for anyone who desires to be thoroughly equipped for the pursuit of a rewarding career that not only provides income, but changes the lives of those in our community for the better. In addition, the more I liaised with academics about my course, the more I understood that these points were not just hearsay, but actual reality. From the welcome talk through to experiencing my first lecture, I was reassured right from the beginning that I would experience a rewarding few years.

Part of my motivation for studying Health Science came from a deep desire to understand why people suffer from certain types of unhealthy addictions and chronic diseases, and how to implement cost-effective ways of overcoming them. Since a healthier lifestyle leads to a better quality life, and given that good health is of much greater value than making heaps of money, I reasoned that if I could help just one person overcome an unhealthy addiction or recover from a chronic illness, it would be well worth all the time and effort spent studying.

At the start of my course I had mixed emotions; on the one hand I was excited about starting a new career and entering into university life. On the other hand, I was quite apprehensive as I had never experienced academic study before. However, without letting any of that put me off, I proceeded by making use of all the resources and people I had available to me, so I could achieve the best outcome on my course. It's easy to underestimate just how much help is available to you as a student when you don't take the time to explore and ask questions - whether the query is course related or more personal, there is always someone who can help; it's just a matter of being proactive.

The keys to my success on the course included good time management, effective communication, and the application of academic skills in every assignment and presentation. Acting in advance in order to successfully deal with expected difficulties enabled me to not only meet challenges head on, but overcome them. One of the ways in which I achieved this was by establishing a strong connection with my class lecturers, course leader, and other staff members of the Access office as early as possible. Every member of the team I came into contact with was friendly, approachable, and supportive; this played a significant role in helping me to persevere through personal setbacks. Whether I had difficulty citing and referencing my work, or needed further guidance on preparing for exams, I was given the help to succeed as I was resourceful in gaining as much as I could from every meeting and drop-in session I had with my lecturers.

At the end of the year, my resourcefulness, good time management, and strong connection with staff all helped me to not only pass the course, but develop good life skills, character, and personal maturity. Furthermore, this level of success would not have been possible without the friendly, supportive, and encouraging staff that all played a part in helping me progress onto my degree - BSc (Hons) Physical Activity, Nutrition, and Health.

Having completed the first semester of my Bachelor's degree, I am confident that I have all the support needed to graduate successfully. My lecturers have been instrumental in helping us discover various career options upon completion of the degree, who to contact for further information, and current work experience opportunities to develop the practical skills and build the experience employers are looking for. Upon completion of my degree I would like to work as a Nutritionist or Health Promotion Specialist whilst undertaking a Masters degree to further my academic knowledge.

I have found the University of Derby is much more than a place to study; it is a place where students from all walks of life can discover their true potential both academically and practically.

About the author

Nigel Duffus
BSc (Hons) Physical Activity, Nutrition and Health

Nigel is a student at the University of Derby studying Physical Activity, Nutrition and Health BSc (Hons) with the view to becoming a Health Promotion Specialist or Nutritionist. He also volunteers with LiveWell Derby - Steps For The Future, helping to facilitate Movement to Music and Nutrition classes for mentally disadvantaged young and older adults alike.