Inspiring local Armagh woman, Jacinta Kelly (44), a former South West College (SWC) Access student and mum of three has recently graduated with a First-Class Honours BSC in Nursing at Queens University Belfast. Jacinta is currently employed as a Theatre Nurse at the Southern Health and Social Care Trust (SHSCT) and has been redeployed to the front-line Intensive Care Unit (ICU) due to Covid-19.
Before studying at SWC, Jacinta “dreamed of becoming a nurse” but due to barriers in her personal life worked for almost 20 years as a Health Care Assistant. As she approached 40 Jacinta said: “I started to think of becoming a nurse. I knew that if I did not at least try I would regret it for the rest of my life.”
Seeking a new start, Jacinta attended an open evening at SWC and applied for the Full Time Access Diploma in Social Sciences at the Colleges Dungannon Campus to fulfil her aspirations. She said, “this would be the gateway I would need, to then apply to the various universities to study nursing.”
Jacinta said, “From day one the lecturers at SWC Dungannon were outstanding. They were so supportive and willing to give as much time to students as they needed.” Jacinta a full-time mum of three faced many challenges and said: “Settling into the course and being a student again took a little getting used to. I was not prepared for the digital learning”. To improve her IT skills Jacinta also enrolled in computer classes at SWC.
She continued, “It was tough. At times, the workload seemed overwhelming especially as you were not going home to just concentrate on your coursework.” Juggling family life with study and work was daunting but Jacinta persevered and made critical life changes “by working most weekends” to ensure less disruption within her family life.
Near the end of her studies Jacinta sadly lost her Mum praising SWC staff and peers for their help “without the encouragement of my lecturers and their support and also that of my fellow students I may not have had the energy to continue. But in the end, it all paid off.”
Despite all the obstacles, Jacinta completed her studies. She explained “I was delighted to be awarded Access Diploma With distinction.” Having grown in confidence she progressed onto the BSC in Nursing at Queens University, Belfast and was proud to obtain a First-Class Honours Degree graduating in July 2020. Summarising she said, “it is a dream come true, one that South West College Dungannon facilitated and helped to make possible.”
She, swiftly commenced employment as a Theatre Nurse in the SHSCT and within one month due to the Covid-19 pandemic she was redeployed to the front-line ICU and said, “I am glad and very fortunate to be able to help every way I can.”
If you are interested in returning to education or considering a career change, please visit www.swc.ac.uk to apply for a course.