Gordon Cockburn
Access to Arts, Social Sciences and Primary Education
In 2017, I was attending a conference in place of my manager who was heavily pregnant and did not want to be abroad. Looking around I felt completely out of place, I was not enthusiastic to be there despite the opportunity to travel and meet new people, I did not share the passion for the retail world that my colleagues did, and what’s more I did not see a future for myself within the company; I was unhappy. I just could not see any doors opening for me having left school with the bare minimum grades. Something had to give.

After deciding at that conference that I could not do this anymore, I decided to look into my options. I found the SWAP Access course at Edinburgh College, it provided me with the opportunity to test myself, to learn, grow, and it could perhaps afford me more options than I previously had. An application was sent in and before I knew it I was sitting in a classroom full of like minded people discussing poetry, history and psychology. I was happy to be there, to be included in academic conversation. This was a new feeling for me. I met teachers that instilled a sense of belief in me, I was challenged every day to work harder and get better results, which naturally followed with effort. I realised that education can be enjoyable if you approach it with an open mind. Better results led to applying for university all the while thinking “I will just apply and see what happens” I was immediately accepted into the University of Edinburgh to study Ancient History and Classical Archaeology.  

I can safely say there is no way I would have been prepared for university if it was not for Helen, Diane, Sean and Mostafa (Edinburgh College Milton Road) encouraging and pushing me to achieve better. I did not want to let them or myself down. They were a fantastic bunch that loved what they did, that could be me….I just needed the opportunity.   The Access course can give you that opportunity if you immerse yourself in the learning process. Each year at university I improved and the grades got better, I had an amazing experience, I graduated in 2021 and was accepted to study a masters degree in Human Resource Management wherein I could combine my academic ability with my previous work experience; Anyone that tells you working in retail will not get you anywhere clearly does not know what they are talking about.  

I am currently on course to pass my masters degree with flying colours. The passion, enthusiasm and commitment from the teachers at Edinburgh College helped make this possible. It was hard, I felt out of place, I asked myself why I am doing this and I wanted to quit at times. I would not change any of it for the world. Embrace it, enjoy it, try your best and the sky's the limit.  

Best of Luck

Gordon Cockburn
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