Diane Connor, MSc International Tourism Management

After almost two decades as an air hostess with BA, I was ready for a new challenge.

I loved travelling, but commuting to Heathrow definitely has a shelf life! So, when the opportunity to take voluntary redundancy came up, I grabbed it.

I had nothing in mind about what to do and felt that with just a few O grades I didn’t have many options. I worked for a couple of years but I had real-world, industry knowledge to share that I didn’t want to waste. My husband urged me to study but, again, I thought no one would be interested in me with no qualifications and I couldn’t face starting an undergraduate programme from scratch in my mid-forties. I had a look on line at programmes related to my experience and spotted the Msc and, as I read on, saw that they’d consider experience gained in industry. I was accepted and was amazed to be awarded a Moffat Scholarship to fund my fees. It was like fireworks going off, I was so excited.

I was so lucky to get the scholarship, particularly as I found studying again challenging at first. It let me focus on studying instead of having to work too. It was a real learning curve that first trimester. I’d been away from education so long that it never occurred to me that I could ask for support from my lecturers. I thought I can’t tell them I don’t know what I’m doing! When I did ask though, that all changed. They and the Learning Development Centre were so helpful and fellow students were supportive, too, particularly in helping me get up to speed with technology.

I’d advise people coming back to study not to struggle alone – you need to meet challenges head on and that builds confidence too – and don’t underestimate your practical experience.

I’ve realised my ambition and I pinch myself every day. GCU is a wonderful university that’s warm and welcoming. You’ll never feel like an outsider.

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