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Late Bloomers Reap Rewards Of Adult Learning

Posted on 04 August 2011
Cassie Roberton (top) and Damien Legg (bottom)

Making your mind up later in life is no barrier to a successful career, say former Guildford College Group students who have transformed their lives through adult learning.

Speaking in Adult Learners Week (May 14 to 20), Cassie Roberton, an integrative counsellor with her own practice and Damien Legg, the sole garden designer for a successful Surrey  landscaping company, agree that they were “career butterflies” after they left school. Both were unable to find a job that was an exact fit and that they could settle on for life.

Cassie, 26, of Godalming, who has a practice at the Luck’s Yard Clinic in Milford, studied for a GNVQ in Business Studies after leaving Broadwater School but although she did well, it convinced her that she didn’t want to work in an office. “Doing paperwork in an office, as I did during work experience, was definitely not for me,” she says. “I wanted to work face-to-face with people.”

Another NVQ, in Travel Services, also turned out to be a false start and Cassie then worked at a nursery school. “That appealed on one level – I enjoyed working with children – but at a deeper level there was something missing. Her next job saw her working with pupils with challenging behaviour, becoming a unit leader and gaining an NVQ in Health and Social Care. The work of the counsellors at the school sparked her interest and with their encouragement she enrolled for the part-time Counselling Skill and Theory course at Guildford College.

“I just knew straight away that I had finally found something I wanted to do for life and it was a natural progression onto the Foundation Degree in Integrative Counselling. The course is BACP accredited and well respected within the counselling profession. My experience was of exceptional learning, support and supervision that helped mould my personal philosophy that I use today in my private practice.”

Cassie worked full-time while she studied and helped care for her father, who was dying of cancer. “It was hard work and undergoing personal therapy as part of the course was quite a painful journey but it made me a more confident and self-accepting person.”

She is content that she explored her options before settling down to a career. “I didn’t know what I wanted and I felt unfulfilled but I trusted my instincts. Now the future holds so many possibilities.”

Damien Legg, 32, has worked at Bloomin’ Marvellous Landscapes in Kingston since graduating from Merrist Wood College four years ago. Previously he had done a year’s Foundation in Art and Design at Camberwell School of Art but then flitted from job to job, including being a painter and decorator an auction manager in Australia, before enrolling at Merrist Wood for a HND in Garden Design.

“I decided I needed a career and although I grew up on a council estate and never had a garden I was attracted to the artistic side of garden design, and to the idea of working outdoors. Merrist Wood ignited my passion for garden design, plantsmanship and landscaping. The two year course armed me with all that I needed to find my place in the industry and with the will and desire to succeed. I’ve gone from just making a living to having a varied and exciting career and a job I am completely committed to. Studying as an adult was challenging but rewarding. I’d advise anyone who has not found a satisfying career to go for it, to persevere and find their place in life – good things will come.”

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