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My name is Liz Shaw, I'm 38 and a single mother of three. I have just finished the Access course in Humanities and Social Sciences. Up until secondary school I was quite a confident young girl. Unfortunately going on to high school, I suffered from bullying, a lot of time out from school and it took a blow on my education. I was living with my mum, so it was just me and my mum at the time, so obviously money was short, and the only sensible thing really was for me to start working as well. I started off at 16 working in an office supplies company. I think I did about four or five years there and progressed through roles, but yeah it was just about getting out there and getting some money really.

There was always something there with me, in the back of my mind, that I need to do more. None of my direct family went to university and I think I just kind of put the brakes on a little bit and thought 'I'm never going to be able to do it'.

My children started high school, my daughter is doing really well. She's always had her mind set, she was quite determined, she was going to leave school, she was going to do her A-levels, she was going to go into university. I didn't want her having that thought that 'I want to do more than my mum', I wanted her to have that thought of 'I want to do something like my mum'.

I spoke to a friend of mine whose girlfriend had just completed the Access course and she gave me a little bit of information.

It was kind of a shock really when I first read it and thought 'I'm not going to have redo any GCSEs, I'm not going to have to do A-levels, I can do it all in, what I thought, two or three years'. That was the key really, it was the shorter timescale of getting where I wanted to be.

I was keen, I was eager, until you walk through that first door and you don't know anybody and it's like being back at school again, and the nerves kick in. But being older you realise that everybody else is suffering that as well and everybody else is going through the same thing.

It is a very nurturing environment, the tutors are very open. If there is something that's stopping you from progressing with your assignments, they'll sit down with you and work through it, they're absolutely fantastic.

The skills that I have learned within this last year have been vital, they really have. The way in which you research information, finding books in the library, the right books, finding information through the library resources online – everything that you will use at university is taught to you through the Access course.

I've applied for the Applied Criminal Justice studies at the university, that's going to lead me into maybe probation work, prison service – anything within the criminology side.

To go into university, it's really nerve wracking and that idea as well for myself that I'm going to be the oldest one there, but because I've been here with people of the same age range as me, I know now that I'm not going to be the oldest one.

The Access course has given me the confidence to move on to university. It's seen by family members, it's seen by my children, it is noticeable how much of an improvement it's been in myself.