What made you decide to do this course?

After finishing school at the age of 18, I studied at Natal Technikon (Durban University of Technology) where I gained a Foundation degree in Food Service Managment. I spent 10 years working in the hospitality industry as a catering manager in hotels, restaurants, schools and hospitals. I moved to England in 1997 and after trying my hand at a couple of administration jobs I was offered a position working in a school as a Learning Support Assistant. I saw firsthand the importance of healthy eating amongst school children and decided I wanted to combine my passion for food with the challenges and rewards of teaching children.

However, to achieve this, I first needed a formal degree in the subject I wanted to teach and therefore needed to 'top-up' my existing qualification to meet the entry requirements in the UK.

This is where the challenge began... I wanted to apply for Teacher Training (PGCE), however I could not do this until I had completed the 'top up' degree. I was also mid-way through a Foundation Degree in Childcare and Education, so I started enquiring at local universities for a course that I could start immediately. I could not afford to waste any time and potentially lose the opportunity of becoming a teacher.  I hadn't considered studying online until I saw that University of Derby had the perfect programme for me. It meant I could study online from home, continue with my other commitments and work my studies around my job. Although I knew I was taking on a mammoth task and had some concerns about not seeing my tutors face to face, through real-time tutorials, I was able to speak to my lecturer and other students.

How would you describe your online student experience?

The process of registration and starting the course was incredibly easy and stress free. The online student services were always helpful and nothing was too much trouble. They were able to suggest people to talk to regarding my choice of modules and how best to study online. I spoke to Leonard Cseh the Programme Leader who was brilliant. He immediately put me at ease regarding any concerns I had about online study. He always gave constructive feedback when we discussed assignments and this enabled me to research further and ultimately gain better marks.

What did you find particularly beneficial?

One of the best elements of this programme was the ability to access real time tutorials. In addition, if the tutorials were not at a suitable time for me to watch, they were always recorded and made available to students to refer back to. Being able to access this information throughout my course was beneficial, particularly when I was completing my independent study.

An area I found fascinating was the ability to present assignments during real time sessions. The variety of assignments formats (essays, reports, Powerpoint presentations, staff manual etc) made this course extremely exciting and enabled me to develop my ICT skills which at times proved challenging and took me out of my comfort zone.

The modules I enjoyed most were the Managing Cultural Diversity and Anthropology of Food. Having come from South Africa where cultural beliefs are very important, these modules enabled me to reflect on what I believed and at times question those beliefs, as well as researching other cultures and traditions.

What would you say to anyone considering an online degree at University of Derby?

If I was to give advice to anyone wanting to study through University of Derby, I would say "definitely go for it!".  Time management is paramount but the tutors were always there to help which gave me the confidence to succeed.

How has your online degree helped your career?

I am now three months into my teaching placement and loving every minute. I owe a huge thank you to Leonard Cseh and all the other tutors who enabled me to complete my degree and achieve my dream.