Teacher turned student graduates with first-class degree

A former deputy headteacher has demonstrated that it is never too late to learn after retraining as a paramedic at Staffordshire University

Marc Roberts in his graduation cap and gown

Marc Roberts has gradauted with a first-class degree

There’s a very close link between teaching and being a paramedic, a lot of skills are transferable.

Marc Roberts, BSc (Hons) Paramedic Science

Marc Roberts, from Walsall, was a teacher for more than 20 years before deciding that he wanted to change career.

The 51-year-old explained: “I found myself in a situation where I fell out of love with the job that I was doing. But what could I do about it? I’ve got a family, a mortgage, and no idea what else I could or would like to do.

“So, my thoughts went back 35 years to my former 16-year-old self. I remember having aspirations at that age of being a paramedic. But at my age now, I thought that would be impossible to achieve.

“I’d only ever known teaching so it was a big decision, but helped by the support of my family and children I thought maybe I could do it.”

Following a visit to a Staffordshire University open day and a conversation with a lecturer, Marc was reassured that he wasn’t too old, and that it wasn’t too late to follow his dream.

Beginning his BSc (Hons) Paramedic Science degree during the height of the Covid pandemic was a challenge for Marc but he soon found his feet and, despite being the oldest student, he became good friends with the rest of the cohort.

“I’m used to being at the front of the room delivering the lessons and now all of a sudden I’ve got to listen to others doing that and seeing how they teach,” Marc commented. “The degree was difficult but really enjoyable. I think my age helped me with the studying because I knew what I wanted to do and had perseverance.”

“It’s a very close-knit group and you all help each other when you need to. You’re there to support each other so you do build a lot of strong bonds.”

When face-to-face teaching resumed, Marc and his course mates trained in Staffordshire University’s facilities at the Centre for Health Innovation in Stafford which is home to immersive training suites, clinical skills labs and a paramedic training ambulance.

“It makes it so much more realistic. You can learn on the job, without being out on the road. You get that real-life scenario.”

Marc added: “There’s a very close link between teaching and being a paramedic, a lot of skills are transferable. You’re dealing with people in difficult times. I thrive on that and knowing that you’ve helped somebody – a teacher helps a child, a paramedic helps a patient.”

After graduating with a first-class degree, Marc is currently completing his training with West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) and will soon be working as a fully qualified paramedic.

“To come out with a first-class degree was phenomenal. It far exceeded what I thought I’d achieve,” Marc said.

“You’re never too old! Age is just a number, like everyone says. It doesn’t matter if it’s Paramedic Science, Maths, History. It’s that ability to learn something new, so just go for it!”

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