Going to university later in life can be a daunting prospect – but a Sunderland man has proved it can be done, and is urging others to fulfil their potential – including his own family, who have all graduated, or are currently studying, at the University of Sunderland.
Gary Waller has lifted his career to new heights as Logistics Manager at Liebherr Sunderland Works Ltd.
Before joining the firm, which produces maritime cranes and cargo handling equipment, Gary had been in the Army, worked for Nissan and had spent 10 years working as a taxi driver, before he made the decision to study at the University of Sunderland in his late 40s.
Gary, now 50, contacted Sunderland when the foundation degree he had applied to do at Sunderland College fell through – and was enrolled directly onto the BA Business and Financial Management degree.
“I decided to attend university to prove something to myself,” says Gary, from Sunderland. “I left school with few qualifications, but I also wanted to improve my job prospects.”
Gary served for seven years in the Royal Engineers as a plant operator, then 12 years at Nissan working on the production line, and 10 years working as a taxi driver, but had always had bigger ambitions – which were quickly realised at the University of Sunderland.
“While at Sunderland I applied for a part time job at Liebherr through the University’s Careers and Employability Service. Effectively I started to work for Liebherr while I was in my second year at Sunderland, and now I am the Logistics Manager.”
Like most students Gary was dependent on the support of his family – but the Waller family took that support a bit further than most.
Gary graduated in 2015 alongside his wife Debra, who went on to gain her MSc in Environmental Health and Safety.
His daughter Elisha also graduated in 2015, then gained a PGCE in Computer Science Education in 2016, and now teaches at the University Technical College (UTC) South Durham.
His youngest daughter Stephanie is just about to enter the final year of a Broadcast Media Production degree – and they all studied at the University of Sunderland.
Gary added: “I would advise any student to attend an Open Day at the University. It is your chance to speak to lecturers and current students, and also find out more about the University’s excellent facilities, and about the city.”
The University Open Day on Tuesday, August 22 is your chance to talk to academic staff about your interests, have a tour of the campus, and find out more about what financial help is available to you.
The Clearing Hotline is now open on 0191 5153000.
You can find out more about options for study, and what to do next online at: www.sunderland.ac.uk/clearing.
In the 2017 Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education results (DLHE) 94.2% of University of Sunderland graduates were in work or further study six months after graduation.
All new students are guaranteed accommodation at the University of Sunderland.
The University offer a Free Travel Pass – as well as many other Scholarship and Bursaries – to all new students.