Single mum of three, set to graduate from BCUC, encourages others to ‘Walk in Her Shoes’

Sarah Cole, 45, had always dreamt of becoming a teacher but as a busy single mum of three, presumed further education was out of reach – until she enquired at BCUC.  

Surprised to learn that she could still work three days a week, gain financial support and balance studying around her busy family life, Sarah is now encouraging other potential students to 'Walk in Her Shoes’. 

Due to graduate this summer – and at the same time as her eldest son – Sarah, from Rawtenstall, hopes to achieve a Foundation Degree in Children, Young People and their Services and progress onto a one-year BA (Hons) top-up at BCUC.  

Sarah said: “I’d always wanted to be a teacher but as it often does, life had other plans.  

“I’ve been working as a teaching assistant for nine years and dreamt of pursuing further education but didn’t think I could afford the time off work or the financial cost of going back to university. 

“Amazingly, I have found myself slightly better off than before, working part time with the support of a student loan.”  

Sarah continues to work for a local primary school three days a week where she is an emotional learning support assistant and now dreams of helping marginalised children with additional educational and emotional needs. 

Sarah explained: “Now that my children are a bit older, it’s time to pursue those dreams I’ve had for years. If you are organised and determined, family life, work and studying for a degree can all be entirely possible.” 

Alongside Sarah, four other BCUC students are also sharing their experiences of returning to education through an interactive campaign across Burnley and the surrounding areas. 

Residents are encouraged to look out for information boards featuring worn pairs of shoes, hosted by local shops and businesses, and scan the QR code to find out more about life at BCUC and how it has changed the lives and futures of the people featured. 

Sarah added: “I’ve had lots of different jobs in my time from being a travel agent to a marketing coordinator, but never felt like I’ve found my calling. I’d recommend anyone just investigating whether it is possible. I wish I’d done it earlier and finally feel like I know what I want to do when I grow up!” 

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