About you and background
Gareth Fairclough, 26, From Caerphilly.
What course did you study at Coleg y Cymoedd?
Access to higher education (Combined studies).
What made you decide to study at Coleg y Cymoedd?
It was boredom and unhappiness with my lot in life in the years between leaving the army and starting at the college that convinced me. I wanted more in life and I knew that I could do better than I had up to that point, but I didn’t know what I wanted, how I could get there or even if I was capable of what might be required.
Why did you choose to study this course?
I chose the course for one reason; I wanted to see if I could study at university level but didn’t know what I wanted to do.
What are the benefits of studying at Coleg y Cymoedd?
Personally, I think that it gave me a taste of what would be expected of me when studying at university level.
It prepared me for degree level study in such a way that I hit the ground running in the first year at university, having completed the access course which I think was slightly harder than the first year of my BA (Hons) in logistics & supply chain management. This enabled me to get better grades than my peers. I was effectively desensitised to the sudden shock of having to write academically, referencing, lectures, exams and the like having already done all of those on the access course.
I found the help at every stage from college tutors invaluable, from the first day right up to the end of the application process. Before, I had no idea how it worked and would likely have made a total mess of it. Thanks to their help, I managed to get a place in The University of South Wales as well as making it to the final interview stage for St. Edmund hall in Oxford University.
What are you doing now that you have left?
Initially, I wanted to get into Oxford University, but circumstances dictated that I change my plans. I decided to use my previous experience as a supply specialist in the army and study logistics & supply chain management with the University of South Wales. As part of my studies, I have applied for research studies and year-long placements with several local firms, including the Otley Brewery as well as with Lockheed Martin, a multinational aerospace corporation.
In the last few years, I have taken part in several productions with a Cardiff based youth amateur drama group, with the upcoming production being “Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”. I also performed in an original opera, funded by the heritage lottery fund, working with cadw, first campus, WAG and the national Roman legion museum.
On top of all this, I have been working as part of the campaign team for a local candidate for the 2016 assembly elections as the university coordinator.
What do I intend to do next?
I intend to help win an election, finish my studies, secure myself a job in industry and most importantly, ensure that some very talented young people don’t waste their time and abilities as I did!
How is the course helping you achieve your ambitions?
The course set me up for life, to put it bluntly. It gave me the basic skills I needed to know in order to better myself.
How will studying impact on your life?
While I don’t feel that the course gave me better career prospects directly, it definitely enabled me to progress to university, something I would never have been able to do without the course.
It really did make me more confident; more confident in my ability to learn, to write and to speak. It made me able to look at a challenging situation and think about it rationally rather than simply giving up. Where before, I would look at things and wish I could do them, but after completing the course I look at things and think “I can give that a go!”.
Ultimately, it gave me the tools I need to build my life the way I want.
Would you recommend this college and this course to others?
Absolutely! It started me on the road to the rest of my life.