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Lara Clark

“It still feels like yesterday when I first picked up the phone to enquire about an Access course,” said Lara Clark, a former City College student.

Lara continued “It was 2016. I was a single parent to a young child and I had recently experienced a bereavement. I’d been out of education for nine years and I didn’t for a minute think that university would be an option for me. I don’t know what made me pick up the phone that day – perhaps it was having lost a family member that spurred me on – but after that first phone call, I started to believe a tiny bit that perhaps I could achieve my goal of becoming a social worker.”

Lara said when she started her Access to Social Work Diploma in the September of that year, she had no experience of academic writing and couldn’t begin to explain what referencing was. Now, Lara has a first class honours degree, and last year she was awarded a distinction in her Postgraduate Diploma in Professional Practice.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for Access. Not only did I receive an incredible amount of support from the lecturers, I met an excellent group of people – some of whom I would call my closest friends.

“I will forever be grateful for the levels of support I received at City College Plymouth. The staff helped me to believe in myself and I felt fully prepared for the transition to university.”

After completing her degree at Plymouth University, Lara joined the child protection team at Torbay Council and has made a great start to her new career, even receiving a nomination for Newly Qualified Social Worker of the Year at the national Social Worker of the Year Awards.

Lara added: “I have never regretted making that phone call. If there is something you want to do – if you want to change your life, you can do it. Your background or your previous academic achievements – none of that matters at City College Plymouth. Access gives you another chance to achieve your goals. You have nothing to lose by picking up the phone and giving them a call, but you might have everything to gain.”