Victoria Whithear

Access to Bioscience 

I achieved 3 B grades and 5 C grades in my GCSEs… back when Take That were still teenagers! 

I had always hoped to return to Level 3 study as I abandoned A-levels twice. I had looked at vocational courses but wasn’t sure as to what I wanted to do next and wanted to keep my options as open as possible. 

On the Access to Bioscience course at Coleg y Cymoedd I discovered I wasn’t nearly as bad at maths as I had been led to believe. My confidence in maths had suffered some twenty years earlier and I had not tested in it since, but was pleased to find I kept up with the class easily. I was also a little more than surprised when I started achieving my first ever equivalent A grades in chemistry and biology. I’ve been in the top five of my class all the way through which has been a completely new, and very welcome, experience for me. 

I found the college a supportive environment. The tutors are always available to you if you are having problems and they encourage you to support each other. My class has an eclectic background but getting to know each other and helping each other through has been a real benefit. 

I have accepted a place to study Podiatry at Cardiff Metropolitan University. That certainly wasn’t where I expected to be. When I started the course I hadn’t ruled out going to university, but as I really wanted to work in the NHS, I expected to use it to prove I had a willingness to learn and that I was capable of more than I achieved at school. By the time I began in September, I had researched the pathways from Bioscience and realised what an opportunity it was. 

Looking ahead, I hope to get a good degree classification so I have the option of post-graduate study. Podiatrists are able to specialise in areas such as biomechanics, rheumatology or diabetes and there are a variety of interesting pathways in the NHS I hope to investigate. 

I work as an optical advisor for a supermarket, assisting the optometrists with pre-screening and helping patients select the right spectacles. I love it, but I’ve learned as much as I can from the role and there is no progression. I spent eleven years at home with my children and had always hoped to return to education when the time was right. I’ve waited twenty years to finish level 3 and I’ve finally done it. The reward is the opportunity to find a career in a professional role that I love as much as optical work. 

You don’t need to know exactly what you want to do when you sign up for the course, but start working on it immediately after and use it to focus you. Other people on the course won’t have the same goals (I was the only prospective podiatrist in my group) so don’t measure yourself against them, but get to know them and help them whenever you can. You never know when you might need the favour back! Bioscience is the most amazing springboard into so many professions, but it takes a lot of dedication and hard work. Find a goal and aim for it. Good Luck!

Victoria Whithear


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