“A poor background shouldn’t mean limited opportunities,” says Lucy Price, who credits her challenging childhood and strong family values as the inspiration she needed to begin her OU degrees.
Lucy grew up on a council estate in Bolton in the early 1980s and was raised by a single mother who often held down two jobs at the same time to support Lucy and her sister.
“With my childhood, most people on the outside looking in would probably think ‘Well, she hasn’t got many opportunities’, and honestly, if I was them, I would probably think the same,” says Lucy. “We had one wage coming in, a two-bed council house, noisy, drunken neighbours and were burgled twice. There was little chance I would make anything of my education.”
“We didn’t have much growing up, but I valued it, and still do. I reflect on my childhood now and think it actually made me who I am today.
‘I haven’t looked back’
After completing her GCSEs and studying BTEC Diploma in Public Services at college, Lucy was keen to start working full time. She began her career working at Bolton Crown Court, inspired by her relatives who also work in the public sector.
It was a few years into her career when Lucy, now working for the NHS, first thought about returning to education.
“I loved my job; however, by that time I was 25 and starting to see other people of a similar age progressing up the career ladder. I knew I was capable but wasn’t sure how I could afford it or find the time with a full-time job. One evening, my house mate mentioned The Open University due to its flexibility of study. So I did some research and found that I could do a degree based on my existing school and college qualifications, I could study during my evenings and weekends, and they would provide funding!”
Despite believing in herself, Lucy admits that she still doubted whether she could really do it. “During school my confidence was knocked at times. However, after talking it through with close family and friends they convinced me to take the plunge and in 2009 I signed up for the OU. I haven’t looked back since.”
‘It’s changed my life’
After balancing her career and her studies, Lucy completed her BA (Hons) in Leadership and Management in 2014. Three years later she ‘got the studying itch’ again and signed up for a MSc in Development Management with The Open University, which she is on track to finish by 2021.
“The OU has changed my life by enabling me to prove to myself and others that I am capable of pushing myself to gain something special to me and to my career within the public sector,” says Lucy. “It has given me the opportunity to gain three promotions within the NHS since I completed my degree. This has been due to the expanse of knowledge and skills the OU has given me access to through publications, case studies, journals, reflective learning, in order for me to develop as an effective leader and a manager.”
“Overall, the OU has proven to me that it generally doesn’t matter about your background, you don’t have to have lots of money, if you want to do something and you have the determination, then you can and will achieve it.”
Carly Sumner is a Digital Content Officer in the Development Office at The Open University. She loves telling stories and has spent the past 10 years writing about everything from nappy bags to balance transfers. She holds a BA (Hons) in Journalism and Media Studies from Coventry University. When she’s not writing, Carly enjoys reading, sharing good food with great people, and all things colourful.