Mother-of-two Faye Ollis is celebrating after graduating with a distinction from university – at the age of 37 – and landing a new career.
As a single mum, it was no mean feat for Faye, from Wesham, as she had to juggle looking after her children – Charlie, five and Chloe, eight – with studying for her full-time masters diploma and running a part-time business.
She had previously worked as a dance and performing arts teacher, but was made redundant in 2005.
Needing to support her two children, and keen to continue her passion for dance, she made the decision to go back to university last year, to provide her with the resources to run her own part-time zumba business.
And her hard work paid off, as she not only graduated earlier this month with an MSc in business management, from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), but she also was awarded the course’s prize for most outstanding contribution.
Faye said: “I really enjoyed zumba classes and my teacher said I should become an instructor. I knew I needed a way to support my children financially and I figured studying business management at UCLan would give me the skills to help make a success of my own zumba dance business.”
Feeling despondent after losing her job, Faye was initially nervous about going back to university, but says the experience has proved to be the one of the best decisions she has ever made.
She said: “Graduating with this degree has given me a real sense of achievement and really helped to build my confidence, I’m a completely different person.
“On the first day, I remember calling my sister and telling her I wasn’t going in and there were times when I really struggled to juggle spending time with my children and getting essays finished, but my parents and course tutor, Owen Leeds, were so supportive and helped to get me through.”
After completing her course, Faye’s career took a new turn when she landed a full-time student services officer role, at the sixth form centre of Moor Park High School and Sixth Form. She still teaches zumba two nights a week too.
“The practical aspects of the programme, such as the human resources and accountancy modules on my course, have proved to be really useful.
“I’m really enjoying the job and it means I can finally devote more time to my children and take some of the burden away from my parents, who have been supportive for such a long time.
“My advice to anyone in the same position would be to go for it. It is hard work juggling being a single mum with a full-time course, but it is accessible and there is a lot of support available from the college.”