Coleg y Cymoedd Celebrates International Women’s Day 2024

Inspire Inclusion: Stories from our staff, learners and alumni 

International Women’s Day (IWD) is a global celebration of the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. Each year, this day serves as a powerful reminder of the progress made towards gender equality and highlights the work that still needs to be done. 

In 2024, the campaign theme ‘Inspire Inclusion’ emphasises the importance of diversity and empowerment in all aspects of society. It calls for action to break down barriers, challenge stereotypes, and create environments where all women are valued and respected. Inspire Inclusion encourages everyone to recognise the unique perspectives and contributions of women from all walks of life, including those from marginalised communities. 

Coleg y Cymoedd are proud to celebrate International Women’s Day 2024 by sharing truly inspirational stories from our female staff, learners and alumni. They showcase the achievements, challenges, and aspirations of women who have studied or worked at our college and highlight how important it is that we continue to promote inclusion, diversity, and empowerment for women in education and beyond. 

Supporting women and girls into STEM 

Coleg y Cymoedd alumni – Mechanical Technician in the Beam Instrumentation group at CERN 

“As an Apprentice Laboratory Technician for Coleg y Cymoedd, I gained practical skills and learned how vital technicians are for STEM.  

A student trip to CERN inspired me to apply for a Technician Training Experience there, which opened up amazing opportunities for me in vacuum science and mass spectrometry.  

I travelled to Bern, New Zealand, and Australia, and saw the cutting-edge research happening in these fields. 

I want to encourage girls and women to pursue STEM careers and show them that nothing is impossible.  

Thank you, Coleg y Cymoedd, especially the Science Department, for your support and inspiration. Please keep finding more chances for people to explore STEM!” 

Developing female talent 

Coleg y Cymoedd staff member, learner, and beauty entrepreneur 

 “I have always loved learning and teaching, and I have been fortunate to have mentors who encouraged me to pursue my passions in the beauty sector. 

Sara Quick and Nicola Davies, my tutors for Level 2 and 3 Beauty Therapy courses at Coleg y Cymoedd stand out to me as they helped me launch my own home-based beauty salon and inspired me to share my skills and knowledge with others. 

It was from this that I enrolled on Coleg y Cymoedd’s PcET to become a teacher, and was able to access the same, great support from my mentors, Nicola and Cath Richards as I learned ways to engage learners and help them stay focused on their education.  

The highlight for me was working with Entry Level 3 students in the final year of my course – I got to see that I could make a difference in their lives, the same way that my tutors made a difference in mine. 

My passion for beauty and teaching led me to start my own Training Academy, where I hope to empower and inspire students to achieve their goals and dreams in the industry. I want to be a positive role model and a source of support for them, just like my mentors were for me.” 

Providing women and girls with access to quality education and training 

Former Coleg y Cymoedd learner studying an Account and Finance Degree Apprenticeship with Welsh Water 

“After achieving A*AB in my A Levels at Coleg y Cymoedd, I was successful in securing a degree apprenticeship at Dwr Cymru Welsh Water. This means I am studying a part-time Accounting and Finance Degree at the University of South Wales, fully funded by Welsh Water, whilst earning and working in a professional environment as a Finance Trainee. 

I found out about the scheme from my college tutor, Holly Richards. She encouraged me to apply and supported me with my application. Holly reminded me that if I work hard enough, I could achieve anything. This led me to where I am today. 

Through both college and my time in Welsh Water I have had a mentor. I believe they can really help women and girls feel more supported in the workplace. My mentors have certainly helped me develop my skills and explored my curiosity. I would recommend mentorship to any female trying to navigate work or study and also remind them of the importance of selfcare to destress and protect your wellbeing. 

I find myself enjoying my journey much more when I share my experiences with my friends and family, and when I take a break for myself. This has helped me stay productive and on track with my university work.” 

Supporting the advancement of women and girls through mentoring 

A Level lecturer and MAT and Mentoring Programme Coordinator at Coleg y Cymoedd 

“As a coordinator of Coleg y Cymoedd’s Mentoring Programme, I have the privilege of helping young women achieve their education and career goals.  

The programme is designed to support and empower female, trans and non-binary identifying learners who aspire to succeed in various fields.  

We match each learner with a mentor who has relevant experience and skills in their chosen sector, such as law, psychology, media, and medicine.  

The mentors are highly respected and accomplished women who generously share their time and wisdom with our learners. They offer guidance, contacts, work placements, and support with CVs, university applications, interviews, confidence, and presentation skills.  

The programme aims to create a supportive and nurturing environment where young women can flourish and enhance their skills. I am proud to be part of this initiative that empowers young women to thrive and become future leaders in Wales and beyond.” 

Supporting women and girls into business 

Coleg y Cymoedd learner and Freelance Make-Up Artist and Face Painter 

“I was clueless when I first started out with make-up, but always shared my work on social media and started to gain a small following. These followers have turned into supporters, and in some instances, friends. It’s important for women to lift other women up. These followers have encouraged me at times when I doubted myself. 

Alongside college, I started my own business, and the two have complemented each other really well. I am currently studying TV and Film Hair and Make-Up (BA Hons) at Coleg y Cymoedd, after completing their Level 3 TV & Film Hair, Make-Up, and Special Effects course last year.  

What I love most is being taught by someone who has worked in the media industry. My tutor, Victoria, is so talented. Anyone who is serious about becoming a make-up artist needs to do this course. 

I would say to girls wanting to start a business today: find a passion, get good at it, and stick to it even when things don’t go to plan. Everything will fall into place. You’ll never feel like you’re working, and life will become much more enjoyable!” 

Promoting creative and artistic talent of women and girls 

Former Coleg y Cymoedd learner and Italia Conti graduate 

“Never did I need more of an empowering female role model to look up to than when I was 16 and just starting college.  

I hadn’t met anyone influential within the industry I was about to pursue that could guide me in the right direction or train me to be my best, until I met my [Performing Arts] tutors Jaye and Jo.  

Having two strong, encouraging, supportive and successful women train me every day was a privilege. I am really needed it at that age.  

Being shown that it is ok to be unapologetically yourself as a young woman was so inspiring and really encouraged my personal growth.  

I continue to look up to these women as I navigate adulthood and my career; their continued support has opened so many doors for me and I am lucky to have these amazing ladies in my life.” 

Developing systems that meet the needs of women and girls 

Former Coleg y Cymoedd learner and winner of Agored Cymru Access to Higher Education Learner of the Year awards 

“Never did I think that I would be in year two of a nursing degree aged 37. I had no GCSEs when I first joined Coleg y Cymoedd in September 2020 and was battling with my health due to breast cancer.  

They offered me flexible learning, allowing me to catch up on my lessons online and worked my assignment deadlines around my hospital appointments and caring role. Now I am thriving in university and will be a registered nurse next year. 

I’d like to say to other women and girls:  ‘Look up at that glass ceiling that you think you cannot break through and smile to yourself as you smash straight through it’!” 

Happy International Women’s Day from Coleg y Cymoedd. 

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