The 2018 Fastrack Awards were held at an on-campus ceremony that saw a record number of graduates recognised for their efforts to work towards commencing a University degree.

Over 160 students graduated from this year’s Fastrack course, guaranteeing them a place on their chosen degree course at the University in September.

Fastrack is a free intensive course for adults, designed to provide the skills and knowledge to prepare participants for entry to an Edge Hill degree.

During the seven week full-time course students are taught study skills with compulsory sessions on essay writing, report writing, revision and examination techniques and more. They also complete a subject-specific component whereby they select the subject they hope to study at degree level, and if they pass both parts of the course then they can progress to their degree course in the following academic year.

Scroll down to read about this years Fastrack graduates, or to find out more about the next Fastrack intake click here.

“All the stars were aligned” for Fastrack graduate Rachel

Inspired by her daughter’s success at Edge Hill, Rachel decided to embark on the University’s Fastrack course to reach her dream of helping others, the way the Samaritans helped her.

Rachel Tedford, aged 53 from Liverpool, has experienced significant responsibilities and losses throughout her life which deeply affected her confidence, however when she witnessed how well her daughter did at Edge Hill, it encouraged her to return to higher education.

“My children are adults now, and my youngest daughter Heather has just graduated from Edge Hill with a first class degree in Nutrition and Health, which inspired me to apply for Fastrack 2018. I have attempted to do a degree twice before and have had to leave due to compelling circumstances.

“From a young age, I experienced significant responsibilities and losses. I had feelings of low self-worth and social anxiety, all of which I always did my best to hide. This eventually manifested in depression, anxiety and poor life choices. Eight years ago I found myself in the darkest place, I was drinking to cope and got into real difficulties. I eventually asked for help and support from the Samaritans and Alcoholics Anonymous, who each gave me hope and with counselling helped me forge a better way of being, for which I will always be grateful.

“Five years ago I proudly became a listening volunteer for the Samaritans and started a small business working from home. My aspirations are to be a role model for my adult children, study for a degree in Counselling and Psychotherapy, for my personal growth and so I can help others realise their potential.

“Edge Hill has supported me with excellent teaching, positive regard and a diagnosis of Dyslexia, which I will receive support for from the University’s SpLD services.”

Rachel has also been awarded a Fastrack scholarship for overcoming the odds and showing real determination to succeed.

Rachel’s Developing Academic Study Skills tutor, Collette Forrest, said:

“Rachel gave 100 per cent commitment throughout Fastrack. Quite apart from her excellent attendance, punctuality and conscientiousness she supported others and was always willing to listen to advice. The phrase “I feel so lucky to be at Edge Hill, it is such privilege to be here” will be a phrase I always assign to Rachel.”

After thoroughly enjoying the course Rachel hasn’t looked back, and has some sound advice for others who are considering returning to education.

“I feel this time the stars were aligned for me. If you are considering applying for Fastrack, just do it. It’s just six weeks and time goes by so quickly. The support is there right the way through, just ask.”

Click here for more information about Edge Hill’s Fastrack programme.

Fastrack has helped Rob transform his life

After a turbulent upbringing, dedicated Fastrack graduate Rob has turned his life around and hopes to help others who are suffering the way he did.

Rob Cumine, age 38 from Bebington on the Wirral, didn’t have the greatest start life, but Edge Hill’s Fastrack course has given him the confidence and belief that he can succeed and help make a difference to other people’s lives.

“My birth mother abused me and I was placed in care,” said Rob. “I was adopted and then my adopted mum became really ill suffering two strokes and my dad left. I became my mum’s sole carer at the age of eight. I passed my 11+ exams but the pressures at home really got to me as a teenager and I eventually rebelled. I ended up spending nearly five years of my life in prison.

“I left prison aged 22 for the last time, but the stigma attached to ex-prisoners was still there. I struggled to find work and just took any job I could find. I felt like I’d failed and let everyone down. I developed an anxiety disorder and panic disorder due to the depression I felt.”

Rob was studying Psychology at Wirral Metropolitan College when he found out about the Fastrack course at Edge Hill. After attending an open evening, he met Linda McIver from the University’s Psychology department who offered him a place straight away.

“I made a decision two years ago that I want to make a difference,” said Rob. “I want to help others that are suffering the way I was. Intellectually I never struggled, but I lacked belief in myself.

“However now, with the support the tutors at Edge Hill have given me and my determination to prove to myself what I can do, I feel inspired to achieve my goals.

“The Fastrack course has been fantastic and I have enjoyed every minute at Edge hill thus far. It was hard but worth it, and the all of the staff have been so friendly, understanding and supportive.”

Rob’s subject tutor Linda MacIver said:

“It’s always an enjoyable experience teaching on the Psychology Fastrack programme. The course attracts a diverse range of students who have chosen to embark on an academic career for a variety of reasons. This year the story of Robert Cumine was particularly inspirational.  Rob’s positive attitude and his determination to succeed were admirable.  He proved to be a valuable and hardworking member of the cohort from the beginning, demonstrating commitment, enthusiasm and an eagerness to learn throughout the course.   It was a pleasure getting to know Rob and I wish him every success with his future studies.”

In spite of the challenges he has faced, Rob still has big plans for the future, and will embark on a Psychology degree in September with the aim of researching and writing in the future.

“I’m here for the long run. My goal is a first class honours degree, then a Masters and finally a PhD.”

Click here for more information about Edge Hill’s Fastrack programme.

Rachel has the world at her fingertips

Edge Hill’s Fastrack course has led to a wealth of opportunities for dedicated volunteer Rachel, who had no idea which direction to go in when she left school.

Rachel McAvoy, age 19 from Liverpool, initially decided against going to university because she didn’t know what she wanted to do. English was the subject she most enjoyed, however as several members of her family have successful law careers, she was also drawn to this idea.

After securing an apprenticeship and gaining an insight into how a law firm is run, Rachel decided that law wasn’t for her.

“When a family member told me about Fastrack, I discovered the course offered a pathway which would allow me a place on an English degree without having to go back to college and do resits so I decided to apply,” said Rachel.

“I thought that I was going to be the youngest person on the course and subsequently before I had even applied I felt as if I would be judged. Thankfully this assumption couldn’t have been further from the truth.”

Rachel is a keen volunteer and has completed a number of fundraising missions with the aim of helping as many people as she can.

“Providing aid to people in need is incredibly important to me and it’s a huge part of my life,” said Rachel. “I have done all sorts of fundraising from raising money and collecting food for the local food bank, to volunteering in the local Red Cross charity shop and helping build an allotment in the local school premises for future generations to look after and enjoy.

“I am so thankful for the Fastrack course because it has given me the opportunity to study English at degree level, and it has helped give me the confidence to reach my full potential. I know how many doors the next three years will open and I am more than excited to see where they lead.

“I’m looking forward to starting my degree in September and getting involved with the local community in Ormskirk.”

Margaret Forsyth, one of Rachel’s tutors, said:

“Rachel is a really enthusiastic student who has sound potential. What impressed me was her ability to think outside the box and her willingness to share ideas. Having produced some good work in her assessments, I am confident that she will do well in her future undergraduate studies.”

Fastrack is an intensive, free programme for adults. It has been designed to provide the skills and knowledge to prepare participants for an Edge Hill degree.

Click here for more information.

Fastrack graduate Marcus sets his sights on a career in law

After overcoming a number of personal hurdles, dedicated student Marcus has taken a step towards his dream career after graduating from Edge Hill’s Fastrack course.

Marcus Bassett, age 19 from Liverpool, has had to deal with a lot of personal issues from young age which put a huge weight on his shoulders. However once he set his sights on a career in law, there was no stopping him.

“I realised that the Fastrack course was for me when I set sight on what I really wanted to study – Law. Rather than returning to college to complete A levels, I decided to embark on Edge Hill’s Fastrack course because I was already passionate about what I wanted to study and I wanted to get stuck in.”

Ann Kennedy, Senior Access, Advice and Guidance Officer for Fastrack, first met Marcus at a Sheila Kay Fund celebration event.

“Marcus struck me as a young man with a high level of determination to succeed and just needed someone to point him in the right direction,” said Ann. “We had a long chat about the available options and I could see that he would fit the ethos of Fastrack perfectly and encouraged him to apply. I was delighted when his application came in and the interviewing tutors’ comments matched my own views of him. It has been a delight to be able to see Marcus take the first steps towards his dream career.”

Marcus thoroughly enjoyed the Fastrack course and has nothing but praise for all of his tutors.

“During my time at Edge Hill, all my tutors were always concerned with my wellbeing, especially Mike Cawley and Sharon Mcavoy who both gave me excellent advice and unbelievable support – their door was always open for me. They helped me with personal issues, as well as when I was struggling with the course, and I really couldn’t have done it without them.”

Regardless of the challenges he has faced, Marcus still has big plans for the future. He hopes to complete a degree in Law, including a year abroad, and eventually specialise in immigration or human rights.

“During Fastrack we were giving taster courses from the University and traveling abroad really stuck out for me,” said Marcus. “I hope to be able to spend a year studying in Madrid.”

Fastrack is an intensive, free programme for adults. It has been designed to provide the skills and knowledge to prepare participants for an Edge Hill degree.

Click here for more information.