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Life changing experiences led to new learning journey for UWTSD Birmingham graduate

By Ella Staden
Tuesday, June 21, 2022

For aspiring Artiste Anne-Marie McDonald, exploring the arts from music, dance and poetry through to vocal performancesseries of devastating and life-changing experiences led to a new learning pathway. 


“In 2008 my father died, and my mother was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer,” she said. “This defining moment led to the discovery of new abilities, and qualities that only began to show itself in the aftermath of death and loss.” 

Anne-Marie said she was fortunate to receive bereavement counselling at St Mary’s Hospice in Birmingham and it was during these sessions that she realised this was the career she wanted to pursue, to support people through their grief.   

“I was recommended the Health and Social care course, Certificate of Higher Education Skills for the Workplace, Level 4 by a good friend who knew of my aspirations to work within this sector. This put me on the path of going back to study and I became a mature student,” she said. 

“I had the opportunity of experiencing life on campus before Covid-19, meeting the lecturers, learning academic skills and I thrived when contributing to team presentations and meeting fellow students. 

“Growing and developing new skills was exciting, but also very daunting. During Covid online learning was in place and I was now also facing health-related challenges, so it was actually a relief to join the lectures from the comfort of my home.”   

Anne-Marie said she benefitted the most from the Changemaker modules: Creativity and Value Creation, and Building your Personal Brand for Sustainable Employment.  

“These modules enabled me to see how my creativity could be used, also the importance of having vision, passion, the fuel to motivate, inspire for the greater good.” 

During the Changemaker Modules, a song that Anne-Marie had written and performed “S.O.S” was endorsed by DT Records to raise awareness of mental health, and a video performance was included in Marie Curie’s Annual Service “Lights to Remember.”  

She is now an official volunteer for Marie Curie, as an Emotional Support Adult.  

“Achieving these things, came with many struggles, but with a strong sense of purpose, health management, support from some of my student connections and lecturers, it spurred me on to persevere,” she added. 

Anne-Marie’s plan for the future is to continue her learning journey, studying for a BSc in Health and Social Care. 

“I want to start my own business or go into partnership, providing workshops/mentoring sessions to support those who are experiencing grief,” she said. 

“This course has helped to broaden my horizons, by encouraging opportunities to network and collaborate, to see beyond my limitations, and to develop new skills and capabilities.” 

Further Information

Ella Staden

Swyddog y Wasg a'r Cyfryngau

Press and Media Officer

Cyfathrebu Corfforaethol a Chysylltiadau Cyhoeddus

Corporate Communications and PR

E-bost | Email : ella.staden@uwtsd.ac.uk

Ffôn | Phone : 07384467078