Dr Karen Washington-Dyer joined our Criminology and Criminal Justice degree as a late applicant in 2008. She is now a lecturer in the subject at Wrexham Glyndŵr University and credits the course with changing her life. Here’s her story:
I got 10 GCSEs grade A* to C and then sat A-levels while I was pregnant with my daughter, getting two Bs and two Cs. I worked for Wrexham Council’s youth service in various roles for 10 years. One day I had a conversation with my manager about how I could progress in my career and he said I would need a degree.
The seed was planted, and also I wanted a career change. I picked up a Wrexham Glyndŵr University prospectus, flicked through and thought ‘that’s the course for me!’ By the time I came to speak to the programme leader it was August, and because I’d done a youth and community diploma I was given an unconditional offer.
I’m so passionate about this university. Without places like Glyndŵr I would never have got a degree and wouldn’t have been able to change my life. The Criminology and Criminal Justice course will change your life – I say that to my students and at the end of the course they tell me I was right. It doesn’t just change your life with regard to employment - although it does - it changes the way you see the world. We look at how society works and how it treats the most vulnerable within society.
Support from the university is fantastic. In my second year my mum died during my exam period and I burst into the office and said I couldn’t do my exam and the staff sorted it all out and helped me with the extenuating circumstances process.
I got a first class degree then went straight into an MPhil/PhD, where after 18 months a panel decides if your research is original enough to go to PhD. I got a scholarship from the university which was a massive help.
While doing my postgraduate studies full time I also worked 18 hours a week as a housing officer. It was while studying my PhD that I was asked to give a guest lecture to the second years on my specialism – terrorism - and my lecturer said I was a natural lecturer. A couple of years into my PhD a maternity cover position came up within the department and I applied and got the job, and then a full-time lecturer job came up.
My message is it’s never too late. I never thought I would get into university having been out of education so long. I tried my luck and if you’d told me in 2008 I would be sitting in this office now with my old lecturers as colleagues I wouldn’t have believed it. The last three years I’ve been nominated for best lecturer in the Students' Union awards and won it two years ago. Imagine if I’d thought to myself ‘oh, it’s already August, the course is starting soon, I’m too late’. It’s never too late – come in, have a chat to your potential lecturers – give it a go!