Catherine Denham

Catherine Denham

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background.

I am 45 years old and married with 2 boys aged 22 and 18. Prior to coming to university I was an early years practitioner working with 2-5-year-olds. Throughout my work in the early years sector I was always looking for ways to improve my practice so university seemed the next step in my training. I came to the university open day over a year ago and was undecided about leaving work and taking the plunge. However, things changed at work, I watched my eldest son graduate and decided that it was now or never! Two weeks after making the huge decision to return to study I was offered a place on the BA Childhood Studies.

What motivated you to apply to study your chosen course?

Working in early years was a major factor in my chosen course of study and when I looked into the course here at Leeds its variety of modules really appealed to me. The staff made a big impression on me at the open days. I also really liked the fact that you are not limited to just doing modules relating to your degree. I have chosen beginners Japanese as my discovery module and, although it is challenging, it is great to do something completely unrelated to my main course of study.

What do you think of your course, have there been any particular highlights for you?

I am really enjoying the course. It is allowing me to understand my role as an early years practitioner and there is a great variety of modules. Getting my first assignment mark back and knowing that I can actually do this was a particular highlight but meeting so many different people from all around the world is also great. The big worry being a lot older than the majority of the other students is that you won’t fit in but this has not been a problem and as well as having friends who are roughly the same age as me I also have friends who are the same age as my sons. I have learned that it doesn’t matter what age you are everyone can contribute something to the class!

How would you describe the help and guidance you received?

All the staff in the School of Education have been wonderful and no question is too trivial. There is lots of support not only with academic work but also with pastoral care. 

How would you describe the facilities at the University?

The facilities at the university are fantastic. There are plenty of study spaces and places to socialise. I particularly like the fact that if I want I can go to the Lifelong Learning Centre and use the facilities there as well as get support specifically suited for mature students. I have been to many of the library workshops and can’t recommend them enough. They are brilliant if you are unsure about any aspect of academic work.

Have you been involved in extra-curricular activities, such as societies, summer placements etc?

I am a member of the Mature Students Society and I have been to some of their lunchtime catch up sessions. I have also been to a Japanese Society taster evening which was great fun and allowed me to meet some new people. This summer I am hoping to climb Mount Kilimanjaro with the RAG society.