Robyn, Access to Science

Robyn, a mature student and a mother of two young children, enrolled on the Access to Science course at Activate Learning’s Guildford Campus last September with the ambition of gaining a qualification that would enable her to fulfil her ambition of going to university.

A local to the area, Guildford College was a great choice for Robyn who has made good use of the campus’s facilities, such as the Learning Resource Centre, as well as the online learning platform which has allowed her to continue her studies remotely during the periods of national restrictions.

Robyn says: “Last year, as we entered the first lockdown, I felt like I was at a crossroads. I realised I wanted to set an example for my daughters by doing what I love and fulfilling my own potential.

“I also knew it would be more challenging this time (not least because I was starting the course during a pandemic!). However, it felt like an opportunity to look inwards and focus on what mattered to me.

“As a mature student and mother of two young children, an Access course felt like the ideal way to return to education.

Robyn’s ambition to enter the field of psychological research drove her to apply for an undergraduate place in Psychological and Behavioural Sciences at Cambridge University.

She told us: “Between ages 14 and 19, I was an elite Judo athlete for GB, and this is how I became interested in psychology. I was fascinated by the idea of ‘talent’ and what gives people the edge in their field.

“After I retired from sport at 20, I self-taught GCSEs in 4 months and started a course of A-Levels – achieving all A’s in my AS exams and applying for university. However, I had several challenges in my home life that prevented me from accepting my university offers at the time.

Balancing her studies with family life has understandably been a challenge for Robyn, especially as she is studying for an A Level in Maths, self-teaching as a private candidate, alongside her Access course as well as her husband also studying Access to Business at Guildford College. She has never let this stand in the way of her goals and remains focused on her aspirations.

“Organising full-time study around childcare, home-schooling, and part-time work has been extremely difficult and has meant some late nights of study.

“I have had to embrace the challenge of coordinating schedules and learn to negotiate with my husband on home-schooling and childcare, often based on the urgency of deadlines!

“I am still hugely passionate about psychology seven years on and bringing up toddlers – I have learned a lot more about the subject and become really interested in child development.

“Psychology is a field where research still has so much still to tell us that could vastly improve people’s lives. This is something I really want to be involved in!

“It has long been a dream to study at Cambridge because of the incredible scientific community surrounding students and the opportunity to be a part of ground-breaking research from the beginning.

“I think my Access to Science course has prepared me well for the intensity of university study, providing practical skills such as academic writing and research techniques that will be invaluable to my success at university.”

Barry Morton, Robyn’s tutor at Guildford College, says: Robyn, is always clearly focused on what it is she needs to do to get that top grade. She approaches her current studies with a high level of confidence and positivity.

“She is inspirational, and she reminds us all of the power of hard work. I feel intensely proud and excited to have Robyn as part of my tutor group and to help in her development. I don’t know if I have ever met anyone so determined yet at the same time so dignified as Robyn.

“I would like to wish her all the best in all her future studies and all her future ventures, whatever they might be.”

With limited opportunities to relax from what has undoubtedly been a stressful period due, in part, to the restrictions that Lockdown 3 brought – Robyn found that getting out for a walk and some fresh air helped her decompress from the daily juggle between intensive studying and being ‘Mum’!

“I think that for me, accepting the pandemic as an unavoidable reality has turned what might have been a lost year into a year of growth and optimism.”

An inevitable relocation to Cambridge now looms for Robyn and her family so that she can start her exciting next chapter, and something tells us that she will be just as successful!