About you and background
Chris Parish, born on 19.04.1984 (aged 29 during the access course). I grew up in Trecynon Aberdare but spent a few years in my mid 20’s living in Cardiff working for a finance company as a manager. Following administration of that job I then returned to live in Aberdare and worked for a well-known insurance company in Swansea, which I was thoroughly enjoying until around 12 months in where I sustained a severely fractured right humerous and also suffered nerve damage which required a metal plate and screws as well as over 80 physiotherapy sessions and nerve encouragement therapy sessions.
Following my surgery due to having so much time off work I was beginning to lose interest in the job that I was enjoying and began to think about my future and career. Approaching 30 fast, I started to consider Physiotherapy as my hobby is to work out regularly and thought that it would be a perfect course for me. I was interested in my recovery about the anatomy of the human body and what boundaries could be pushed as a practitioner. Following an open day at Cardiff University I couldn’t actually find a physiotherapy stand and got talking to a nice gentleman who introduced himself as a lead lecturer for Occupational Therapy in Cardiff. He was very enthusiastic about the course and job prospects and I had also seen Occupational Therapists during my treatment but never really considered it as a career.
At this stage I started to research Occupational Therapy in more detail and was becoming more and more drawn to it as a career prospect and soon began to put in the necessary steps to follow it as a career. Due to my age I required credits to get on to the course as I had been out of education for so long. This was a slight step backwards as it would require not only attending university for the 3 year degree course but another year in college prior to this.
Nevertheless I applied to Aberdare College to pursue a new career as an Occupational Therapist fully aware that the next 4 years would be a tough mixture of studying and working to financially support myself.
What course did you study at Coleg y Cymoedd?
I studied Access to Higher Education Health Care 1-year full time.
What made you decide to study at Coleg y Cymoedd?
As a local person the college initially was accessible and ran the exact course I required for university entrance. My partner also is a Nurse and she attended the course around 4 years prior to myself. Following a visit and discussion with my future tutor I was happy that I would feel settled due to the friendly atmosphere and applied.
Why did you choose to study this course?
I chose this course due to the university entry requirements. There was no other way to gain the UCAS credits required to apply for university, this enabled me to proceed to the next step of my studying so completion was paramount.
What are the benefits of studying at Coleg y Cymoedd?
The college offers a very professional yet friendly atmosphere that allows you to relax and focus on the course in hand. The staff where polite and as a mature student the prospect of being an older person did not seem to make any difference to anybody considering the average age group of my course being early 20’s. As well as this the parking is free and never too full with an on-site shop and canteen which were very handy.
The library was also an excellent resource with helpful staff. A final benefit is that by choosing to attend here I was supporting my local community and put faith in the college to provide and support me with the relevant skills.
What do you intend to do next/what are you doing now that you have left?
Following completion of the course I was successful in my Cardiff university application in 2013. It is now April 2016 and I have just completed my 3-year BSc Honours degree course in Occupational Therapy and have secured employment within the NHS as an Occupational Therapist practitioner starting in July 2016.
How is the course helping you achieve your ambitions?
Without the course I would never have been accepted in to university so without it I would certainly not be where I am today.
How will studying impact on your life?
The main goal for returning to study was to gain a rewarding career that I would enjoy and could spend the rest of my life perfecting. The career opportunities for me as an Occupational Therapist are now endless with a vast range of specialties available. However, being a student is financially tough, there where many highs and lows during the last 4 years and often felt the financial strain. This is something that I thought long and hard about prior to applying to college and now it has all paid off following securing employment. There is a range of student finance, maintenance grants and university funding that was available which the college helped me to find out about.
Would you recommend this college and this course to others?
Not only would I recommend this course but would also consider returning for any other relevant courses that may benefit me in the future. Attending college is quite a daunting prospect no matter what your age. My recommendation would be not to think about or listen to others opinions as some views of colleges in general can come across negative or off putting, simply make an appointment on an open day or with a staff member and change your future.
Your tutor Judith Daniel said:
Chris was a committed and motivated student who had a clear vision of where the access course could lead after completion. He was prepared to work hard to achieve his goals and strived to produce work of a very high standard. It is very rewarding to here that Chris has done so well and that Coleg y Cymoedd, Aberdare has been part of his success. I wish him well for the future.