Christine Echford HND Computing: Networking

Christine Echford is 32 and from Livingston. After leaving her job due to health issues she decided to fulfil an ambition and study for a degree. She is currently studying HND Computing Networking here at West Lothian College. 

“I have ME, chronic fatigue syndrome and chronic pain which led to me taking voluntary redundancy and I had always said I would regret it if I never achieved a degree so here I am.” 

Christine began her journey back into education by applying for HNC Computing before progressing onto the HND course. 

“Going back into education has been a bit of a juggle as I also run my own business but I seem to be doing ok! 

I had always been interested in cyber security and I knew West Lothian College has good links with Napier and the associate student programme so I wanted to dip my toe in the water to see if the course was for me. I chose college because in the worst-case scenario I could leave after a year but still have a qualification.” 

West Lothian College is currently in the process of preparing a brand new cyber security room to be launched this September and even though Christine and her classmates will have moved on by the time it opens, they have had a lot of input into what the new cyber suite will ultimately become. 

Looking to the future Christine has applied for both Napier and St Andrews to study for her degree and is also looking to integrate her new skills into her own business. While she knows that she may have waited a little longer than some to achieve her academic goals, Christine explains that the decision to return to education isn’t one she took lightly. 

“I’m happy I waited. I always think that when it comes to these decisions it’s your career, it’s the stamp on the world you want to make and the reason I left it so long was I didn’t know what kind of stamp I wanted to make. 

 I started off in PA jobs then found my way into digital, I became a digital project manager and discovered that this was what I loved. 

I would have studied for my degree alongside my job but unfortunately my health took its toll and it just wasn’t possible, but I’m really enjoying everything I am learning throughout this journey. 

I would to say to anyone in the same boat as me to not be deterred because you think you are too old to be a student. I think these things come around for you when they are meant to. Keep up to date with the work and if you are stuck ask for help!  One of the things I noticed was so many people struggle because they are not asking for help but the minute you ask, the lecturers bend over backwards to help you or they will point you to a lecturer who specialises in the area you are struggling with. 

Everyone in the college wants you to succeed and the support networks throughout the organisation really are wonderful. I actually get frustrated that they don’t get the credit they deserve! 

Just keep trying and you will get there in the end.”  

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