A former construction worker, a chef and a waitress are among a group of mature students receiving a cash gift at Christmas after winning ‘Change Your Path’ bursaries.
Up to 20 bursaries were offered to new students, aged 25 and over, starting an HNC, HND or degree course at Scotland’s Rural College in September 2019.
Students studying subjects ranging from Countryside and Environmental Management to Garden and Greenspace Design, were awarded a bursary of up to £1000 (or £500 for part-time students).
The students, who are studying at SRUC campuses in Aberdeen, Ayr, Edinburgh, Elmwood and Oatridge as well as on Garden Design and Horticulture courses in Glasgow, have received half the money for Christmas, and will get the remainder at Easter.
Among the lucky students is Kornelia Pawlukowska-Dible, 35, from Poland, who previously worked as a freelance curator and trainee chef and is now studying for an HND in Horticulture at SRUC Edinburgh.
“I have always liked contact with nature and when I moved to Edinburgh, I started to take care of the unloved communal garden outside the apartment block where I live,” she said. “Starting to care for this garden developed my curiosity to learn more about plants and gardening and to expand my interests in horticulture in general.
Kornelia Pawlukowska-Dible has swapped cooking food to growing it
“In the summer, I volunteered in the gardens of Greywalls Hotel in Gullane. This convinced me I would really enjoy a career focused on plants and nature, and as a result, I enrolled on the SRUC course.”
After 13 years working in jobs ranging from waitressing to PR, Laura Bell, 28, decided to return to study and enrolled on a BSc (Hons) Applied Animal Science degree at SRUC Edinburgh.
“I was brought up in Midlothian and the Borders and have always wanted to move back into a rural setting,” she said. “I wanted to pursue a career with animals and SRUC has many good links and pathways into agricultural job opportunities.”
Abbie Steenson, 26, from Kirkcaldy, spent five years building up a career in the construction industry, starting as a manual labourer and progressing to management level.
However, after years of commuting to Edinburgh and working alternate weekends, Abbie decided something had to change.
“My job was bringing me very little personal reward,” she said. “I felt that I owed it to myself to do something that made me happy.”
With the help of the £1000 bursary, she was able to enrol on the HNC Animal Care course at SRUC Elmwood in Fife.
“I feel a lot happier as a person since taking this step. I have more energy and have a much more positive outlook. My schedule is different every day, it’s no longer mundane. I am excited about the future and where this course will take me.”
The bursaries were awarded to ease the transition for those returning to study as mature students.
Hannah D’Mellow, Marketing and Student Recruitment Manager, said: “It’s so lovely to read the stories of people who have been helped with their studies by this bursary.
“Our ‘Change Your Path’ stories are all really inspiring and I’m very much hoping that we will be able to offer the bursary again next year.”
For more information about studying at SRUC, visit the website.