University Centre St Helens and Shaping Futures inspire over 100 local students

Last Thursday saw over 100 students from a range of schools in both the St Helens and Knowsley Boroughs participate in a series of higher education workshops at University Centre St Helens, as part of a joint project between University Centre St Helens and the new outreach programme for the Liverpool City Region, Shaping Futures.

Receiving an inspirational speech upon arrival from St Helens born Emmerdale actor, Michael Parr, students from St Augustine of Canterbury Catholic High School, The Sutton Academy Sixth Form, Lord Derby Academy, Kirkby High School, All Saints Catholic High School and Halewood Academy went on to discover the benefits of university level study, locally.

Attendees spent the day participating in a range of interactive sessions, in subjects including Creative Media, Criminal Justice, Graphic Design, Game Art and Microbiology, all designed to give students a flavour of what it is like to study at degree level, before moving onto CV writing and self-reflection workshops.

Over lunch, students heard from former solider and campaigner, Andy Reid, winner of The Sun’s Millie Award for Overcoming Adversity in 2010. Since winning the award, Andy has become a passionate Ambassador for the charity and spoke inspirationally to students about the adversity he has overcome since stepping on an IED plate whilst serving in Afghanistan in 2009. Encouraging students to breakdown their goals into bite sized, achievable chunks, Andy’s speech encompassed the overall aims of the day, as University Centre St Helens and Shaping Futures work together to try and widen both access to, and participation with, higher level study for local youngsters.

Emmerdale Actor Michael Parr was impressed by the initiative and said, “I think it’s important to explore all avenues but university is a good way to move forward. If you’re from a working-class background, like a lot of families in St Helens, then why not stay at home, save money but still go to a good quality university on your doorstep to gain a degree.”

Jennifer Dempsey, Director of Sixth Form at The Sutton Academy added, “Sixth Form students from Sutton Academy were truly inspired at the recent University Centre St Helens and Shaping Futures Discovery Day. It was great for the students to see the range of degree options available to them locally, as well as experiencing student life on the University Centre St Helens campus. Hearing from inspirational speakers really motivated the group and the variety of sessions, covering a range of new subjects, provided real insight into different career pathways that the students may not previously have considered.”

The campaign gave students some real insight into the range of degree courses available to them locally and the various pathways available to reach those goals. University Centre St Helens hopes to turn the Discovery Day into an annual event for local students in years 10 – 13, aiming to encourage the next generation to aspire.

As part of the campaign, University Centre St Helens have taken guests such as Saints star Jon Wilkin, Olympic swimmer Fran Halsall, ITV Granada Reports Sports Correspondent Mike Hall and Sky Soccer Saturday commentator and former Liverpool and England Captain, Phil Thompson to visit schools to deliver inspirational talks to over 500 students.


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