Sports coaching graduate scores top marks

A graduate who never planned to go to university has achieved a first-class degree and the highest academic award on her course

Olivia Taylor holding an award for gaining the highest marks on her course

Olivia Taylor gained the highest academic award on her course

One thing I really want to express is that it doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from, your academic background or what kind of accent you have, if you want something, you can achieve it at Staffordshire University

Olivia Taylor, BSc (Hons) Physical Education and Youth Sport Coaching

Olivia Taylor, 21, from Cannock, studied BSc (Hons) Physical Education and Youth Sport Coaching at Staffordshire University after being inspired by a lecturer at college.

She explained: “I never really thought going to university was achievable for me during high school, as I won’t lie, I hated it – I always doubted my academic ability and relied on my sporting genes.

“It was Jack Bullock, one of my lecturers at college who works here now at the university, who really supported me. I could feel his ambition and inspiration, the inspiration from him to achieve. And I really wanted to just do my best and that made me want to come to university and test to see if I could do it. And I have!”

The course prepares students for careers in teaching, coaching, health and fitness, or sports development. It also provides a guaranteed placement, internship or volunteering opportunities so that students can apply their learning and develop real world skills.

Olivia did placements within a number of schools and colleges, working with learners from a diverse range of backgrounds and impressed with her confidence and knowledge. Having completed the first two years of her degree at South Staffordshire College, Olivia chose to focus her dissertation on college-based higher education which contributed to her earning the highest overall marks in her year.

“The lecturers for me have been the be all and end all to my experience. Without them, I know for a fact I wouldn't be where I am and I wouldn't be as ambitious or passionate about sport in general and all the aspects like my dissertation, for example. I don't think I'd have been able to do that to my capabilities without them and their support and effort.

“To have that first-class degree at the end of it and say ‘you know what, I've tried my best and this is what I've got out of it’ I feel on top of the world! I'll be honest, it's been brilliant!”

Having graduated with her first-class degree, Olivia will return to Staffordshire University to complete a PGCE and hopes to become a teacher in further education.

“Then hopefully one day, who knows, become a higher education teacher and do my Masters or doctorate. So the plan is to basically stay at university for as long as possible!”

Olivia added: “One thing I really want to express is that it doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from, your academic background or what kind of accent you have, if you want something, you can achieve it at Staffordshire University.”

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