Scholar STEM Success – Nicole

Published: 22 Mar 2018

Swindon Scholar alumna Nicole recently secured a place on an exciting new degree apprenticeship programme at Jisc, a company providing digital solutions for education and research. She is currently one of only two apprentices who successfully made it on to the pilot year of the programme, where she will be working as a trainee cyber security analyst, alongside completing a degree in digital and technology solutions.

This is a great achievement for Nicole, and a wonderful example of how there are a variety of pathways to success. Jisc are also excited to have her on board and encourage more women into STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) careers, and are already hoping to expand the programme to more young people next year.

We asked Nicole to tell us about her journey to this point, and she highlights that it was during her time as a Scholar that she first became aware of this alternate pathway to university. With the help of her learning mentor Julie, Nicole soon discovered that a degree apprenticeship would be a great way to pursue the subject she loves.

“My mentor Julie helped me to work out the other options I had. When I decided that a degree apprenticeship was going to be a better fit for me as it was more practical and I still wanted to get a degree, she helped me to search and apply for appropriate roles, even emailing me with more options between meetings. I found I was actually really passionate for engineering and IT, so this is what I focused on. I love innovation and technology, which I can be at the forefront of at a company like Jisc. Rather than having to learn the theory in lectures and teach myself from books I can apply it in a working environment. I am now surrounded by people who have years of experience who can show me practical examples, as I learn the theory for my degree.”

Before joining the Scholars Programme, Nicole had known she was academically gifted, but found she was lacking the support needed to find the path best suited to her. “I think we were encouraged throughout school that the goal was to go to university, however we weren’t ever told what we needed to get there. I had no clue what options were actually available to me. My favourite subject was always physics, but in college I found myself growing less enthusiastic towards it and so I didn’t know what path to take. I no longer knew what the point of what I was doing was, and I began to become lost.”

When she started her mentoring sessions with Julie, Nicole soon found the Scholars Programme became essential in finding the right path for her future. “When I started the programme I began to understand the point of it, and it immediately seemed to solve my current education problems. I was getting the support I needed in mentoring to actually think about how what I was doing then would affect my future, and that it wasn’t all just a waste of time.”

After four years with Villiers Park, Nicole strongly believes the Scholars Programme was vital in helping her push herself to succeed. “Villiers Park is necessary to help those who aren’t getting the support needed to achieve their potential. From my experience, there was a lot more support available for students at school who were struggling to achieve passing grades. The Villiers Park programme is imperative to help high achievers to reach their capability.”

We are delighted that Nicole has successfully made it onto her ideal pathway, and is now starting out on an exciting career in STEM. We wish her the best of luck with Jisc and her future ahead.