Personal tragedy inspires mother to give something back



Heartbreak at the loss of her youngest child due to health complications led mother of four Noreen Akhtar to UWTSD Birmingham campus to study CertHE Health and Social Care in order to help others.

In and out of hospitals with her baby and witnessing others in the same distressing situation, Noreen explains: "While spending a lot of time in the healthcare system with my daughter, who sadly passed away at 14 months, I got to see a lot going on around me.

"I was lucky to have my family to support me throughout this time, but I saw other families struggling without extra support. It made me want to help and support families like these that were going through a similar hard time... To do that I had to start somewhere, so I started this course."

Noreen chose the Certificate of Higher Education Level 4 Health and Social Care. "When I started the course, I wanted to be a social worker for vulnerable families and children. But during the third term, I decided I'd prefer to work in a children's hospital. I feel that I'll be happier helping to save lives and giving families hope."

Juggling a busy family life alongside her studies has been difficult, but Noreen says "having a supportive family has helped me overcome some of the challenges associated with studying at uni. They help me manage my assignments and family commitments by helping in the house and doing the school runs.

"The lecturers also supported and guided me to the right path to help me overcome my difficulties and working through each challenge gave me a buzz – I always want to do my best and come out on top.”

This quality has not escaped the academic staff, and Besty Jose, Programme Manager for Cert HE HSC says: "Noreen is a hardworking, proactive student who opted to study on-campus when lots of other students stayed online. She has been very dedicated to her studies and always completes her assignments beforehand."

"I’ve been able to meet a lot of different people," Noreen continues. "No one has judged me or put me down, and everyone from my lecturers, my peers and even staff on site were all helpful in pushing me up each step of the way, helping me to build on my confidence and communication skills. By doing this course I've learnt a lot about myself and where I can push myself to go further in life. "

Saying that she "cannot wait to see herself in a cap and gown", she reflects on her excitement to see her "parents' faces when she walks across the stage to collect my diploma" - a certificate that will allow her to pursue her ambition to have career in healthcare and nursing.

"I would recommend this course to other people. It has given me happiness so I would like to share it with other people and for them to feel how I do: The feeling of happiness, the feeling of being successful, and the feeling of spreading happiness."

Noreen's desire to spread happiness stems from huge personal difficulties she's had to overcome, but through hard work and perseverance, she has found her pathway through UWTSD, and encourages others to do the same.

"Three years ago, I could not have imagined myself of working towards a career which I will enjoy. It has given me the confidence and the will to dream high, knowing I can reach my goals and that I can make a difference."

The course is available to study at UWTSD's Birmingham campus on weekdays or weekends and can form part of a Bachelor of Science in Health and Social Care.