The magnificent 7 – UWTSD family of learners


This summer will mark another fantastic chapter in UWTSD mature student Carol Connelly’s learning journey - when she graduates from the University’s PCET programme.

This summer will mark another fantastic chapter in UWTSD mature student Carol Connelly’s learning journey - when she graduates from the University’s PCET programme.

Despite the challenges of COVID, Carol has completed the course and is already using the transferable skills learnt in her new role as a tutor at an organisation who promote education and encourage survivors of abuse and violence to move forward and be optimistic about their future.

The PCET programme offers the opportunity to study a highly valued qualification that enables graduates to teach in a range of post-compulsory education settings.

“Like most families, Covid affected us in many terrible ways,” said Carol who lives in Townhill, Swansea.

“Three of us became ill at the start of the pandemic and as a result I ended up in hospital with serious complications. But I was fortunate to recover and in time was able to carry on with my studies online and the university has always been so supportive and my lecturer Caroline Lewis, was there for me throughout, helping me to pick things up again when I was able.

“I’ve already put my skills into practice in my role as a tutor and have also been able to draw on my skills from my BA in Counselling Skills and Interdisciplinary studies.”

Carol and her husband Chris decided to go to university in their sixties and graduated together from UWTSD in 2019.

They graduated at ceremonies on 16th July that year, along with their daughter Bethan’s fiancée Adam Head, who is now a lecturer in Games Design and Development at the University’s Swansea School of Applied Computing. Adam gained GCSEs at school, he could not have imagined that a few years later he would achieve a degree, masters, post graduate certificate of education and is a lecturer at UWTSD. Bethan has a BA degree in Education Studies and Psychology. Her PGCE has qualified Bethan to teach post compulsory learners aged sixteen plus.

“Our eldest daughter Katy was the first of the family to go off to University and graduated with a BSc in Sociology and Criminology in 2011. Her career to date has been volunteering and working to support the families of offenders and in organisations that provide support to survivors of violence and abuse.

Sarah, Carol, and Chris’s middle daughter graduated with a Creative Computer Design degree at UWTSD in 2012 and is now working as a cyber security expert at a bank. Sarah’s wife Laura had previously worked with adults who had learning difficulties, but her ambition was to gain a qualification in sports and exercise science. As they now live in East Wales Laura joined a degree course to do a BSc. Currently she has just finished her first year which has seen her become more confident.

Carol, 67, had previously worked for Neath Port Talbot Council, where she managed a team of 70 staff before taking early retirement in 2016 following an aortic valve replacement. Having never gone to university, she decided it was time to set herself a new challenge – so she and Chris attended an open day at UWTSD in the summer of 2016.

“I got talking to the team who run the counselling courses and realised how much the subject interested me - so I decided to have a go and enrolled on the BA in Counselling Skills and Interdisciplinary studies,” says Carol.

Meanwhile, Chris discovered that the HND in Building Studies he gained in 1996 could count towards a degree. This motivated him to enrol on the Project and Construction Management degree course.

The couple loved being able to study at a local university and said they were delighted with the help they received along the way.

“I struggled with the academic writing in my first year, but I had excellent support, and the research side of the degree really set me alight,” says Carol.

“The staff are excellent,” agrees Chris. “They are approachable, they get to know you and if you have a problem, they are always ready to help you.”

Chris followed his degree with a PGCE PCET, which equipped him to deliver teaching and training. He received his certificate at the graduation ceremony while Adam graduated in Computer Game Design.

Carol said: “It’s never too late to realise your potential, I would encourage anyone considering studying as a mature student at UWTSD to make enquiries and speak to the staff.

We have a wall in our house where Chris and our three daughters and partners have or will have their graduation photos, and now my photo is there too. It’s lovely.”

Carol said. “There are seven of us in our family, Chris and I, our three daughters and their two partners, all I would say we are ‘magnificent’.

Caroline Lewis said: “I have had the pleasure of teaching Carol and Chris as part of the PCET programme and also taught Bethan as part of her undergraduate studies with us and have loved working with them all. We are extremely proud of the Connelly family and their achievements as part of the UWTSD family. It has been an absolute privilege to see them graduate and then return to us for their post-16 PGCE PCET qualifications. Their learning journey, both as individuals and as a family highlight how education can open so many doors and opportunities and within UWTSD we have been delighted to help support them along the way.”

Further Information

Rebecca Davies

Swyddog Gweithredol Cysylltiadau â’r Wasg a’r Cyfryngau

Executive Press and Media Relations Officer

Cyfathrebu Corfforaethol a Chysylltiadau Cyhoeddus

Corporate Communications and PR

Mobile: 07384 467071