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Trailblazing jockey praises university Computing course

February 12 2014


The first professional female jockey to ever ride a winner at Ascot has come on leaps and bounds since joining a Glyndŵr University Computing degree.

Jaki Houston-Campbell swapped horses for courses and is now studying for a MsC in Learning and Technology.

Having retired from racing following a stellar 10-year career, which also saw Jaki become the first professional woman ever to ride a winner in Dubai, she took up a role with the British Racing School (BRS).

Also a keen painter – Jaki won the Horse and Hound ‘Best Horseracing Picture’ award at Christie's auction in London in 1999 - the 46-year-old was looking for different career opportunities and decided to take-up computing.

Having later discovered she was dyslexic, Jaki mastered different systems all by herself and discovered a love of Information Technology (IT).

She has not let dyslexia get in the way of her studies, and admits a crisis in confidence was quashed by Glyndŵr University when she took advice from Dr Clive Buckley, Principal Lecturer for Computing and the Centre for Learning Teaching and Assessment.

“I had always wondered what I’d do if I couldn’t ride, so I decided to enrol on a computer course,” said Jaki.

“My main hobbies are art and painting, so with my new-found skills for computing I found I was able to plan out pictures, even before putting brush to paper.

“This eventually led me to website design, so I built my own site and enjoyed it so much I enrolled on a website design correspondence course, which gave me the confidence to buy a book and teach myself.”

She added: “For the first time ever I really enjoyed learning, and it was only later that I discovered I was dyslexic.

“I felt my life had come full circle. I got a part time job in administration at BRS, and within three months was given a course to head-up because of my above average IT skills.

“I was later asked to lead a new project replacing their revision ideas with smarter, newer e-learning technology.”

Jaki had made great strides in education but felt she needed to achieve a university qualification to bolster her new position.

“I was worried I had no qualification to gain a similar role elsewhere, should I ever need one, so I looked to find a qualification that would help me do so,” said Jaki.

“I enrolled on the PGCEL at Glyndŵr University – when I started I was worried I wasn’t clever enough to do it, as very early on in the course I found that the others were using very technical and educational speak that was going over my head.

“While they’d all been studying at university I’d been working with horses, so I felt a little uncomfortable.

“I spoke to the tutor Clive Buckley, who told me not to worry, to have confidence and speak my way – I took his advice.”

She added: “I had struggled to keep up because my home life is very hectic, my daughter trains in gymnastics several times a week and it’s a two hour trip there and back for every session.

“However, the freedom of working online as and when I could has made it possible to gain the qualification.”

Now studying for the Masters’ degree, Jaki admits she is again “having doubts” about her ability to succeed academically.

However, she says the backing of her lecturers and fellow students at Glyndŵr gave her a confidence she’d never had before.

“I have learnt that we all have insecurities in our learning,” said Jaki.

“I’m already putting into practice a lot of the things I’ve learnt at Glyndŵr University with the BRS.

“It’s given me a greater understanding of education, my students, and how they learn and how I can assist them in their learning in the future.”

Dr Buckley praised Jacki for her dedication, and said her story was “inspirational” for everyone on the course.

“One of the great strengths of the MSc is that it attracts such a wide range of students; we have students who work in schools, colleges, universities, the NHS, local authorities and the private sector,” he added.

“Also, being entirely on-line, students can study with us wherever they may be in the world and we currently have students working and living in London, Dublin and Munich.

“One student actually spent the first weeks of her study whilst living in Costa Rica and one tutor lives in Belgium. It is truly an international and diverse learning experience.”

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