The Access Student, who had returned to education as a mature student, had no idea that three years later, the skills she had developed as a third year nurse would become vital, as the NHS faced its biggest health crisis in living memory.
Tonya, now in the third year of a Nursing Degree at Ulster University at Magee, will graduate as Registered Nurse in September, and has been mobilised into the workforce to assist the NHS to support the Covid-19 response.
She joins scores of former NWRC students, now working on the frontline during the pandemic, as nurses, paramedics, pharmacists, radiologists, carers, healthcare workers, midwives and sonographers.
Tonya Webb returned to education in 2016 when she enrolled on NWRC’s Adult Learning University Access Diploma in Health and welfare Course, validated by Queen’s University Belfast.
The Access course provides students, who have been out of education, a pathway to Higher Education and University study.
NWRC also offers Access Courses validated by Ulster University, in Combined Studies and Science.
The mum of three said she thought she had missed her chance at education until she found the NWRC Access Course when she was 31.
Tonya explained: “I had been working in domiciliary care for a few years, and then progressed to team leader.
“I had then been offered a post which was mainly assigned to registered nurses and thought if I’m capable of that post surely I would be capable of being a nurse?
“So on a whim I sent for the prospectus to NWRC and spoke to a few staff in the college who directed me on the best pathway to take me on my nursing journey.“I found the Access Course brilliant. It was straight forward – with an abundance of support and guidance from all the staff. It was difficult getting back into education after a gap but I completed it and did very well in the end.
“I graduated from NWRC and went to Ulster University at Magee three months later, in September 2017.
“The access course really prepared me for university, I had regained the routine and mentality of studying again, as well as the education I received.
“I am now 3rd year student nurse redeployed into the workforce to assist the NHS to support the Covid-19 response. In September I will be a fully qualified registered nurse and I am very grateful to NWRC for assisting me on this journey.
“I have and will continue to recommend this course to anyone who wants to return to education to pursue their full potential.
“I’m doing a job that I absolutely love. This course integrated me back into education.
“It gave me the tools and education required to enter university life confidently.
“I have gained life skills, confidence and friendships from my time in NWRC.
“I truly believed that I had missed my opportunity at education, however NWRC dispelled that misconception, and made it an accessible path to University.
“I am proud to be a student from NWRC and very thankful for all they have done for me.”
Theresa McLoone Course co-ordinator – University Access Diploma in Health and Welfare said:
“Many people, for various reasons were unable to complete their education when they were younger.“Our Access Course at North West Regional College offers an opportunity for students normally over 19 years of age on 1 July in the year of entry and who have normally been out of full time education for at least a minimum of two years, a chance to return to study on a full time or part time basis, at our Strand Road and Strabane campuses.
“The college has a rich tradition of assisting students as they take this first step back into education, setting them out on the journey of new and successful careers.
“Access Courses are available in Health and Welfare, Science and Combined Studies, and are all validated by local universities.
“I would encourage anyone interested in returning to education to speak to our lecturers who can offer them advice and support.
“We are extremely proud of all of our former and current students who are using the skills they have learned at NWRC to assist the community in these worrying and uncertain times.”
Information on all of NWRC’s Access Courses can be found online at www.nwrc.ac.uk/apply
You can also speak to one of the lecturers directly by emailing email@example.com