Better late than never as student Cathy trains to be a paramedic…with a little help from her son
A former staff member is getting closer to realising her life’s ambition after signing up for a University of Northampton course – and getting a little help from her son in the process.
Cathy Goldsmith (55), formerly a Clinical Assessor at the Competence Test Centre (CTC), started her Foundation Paramedic Science course in November – just a few weeks after her son Ali (24) started on his own path to academic glory.
Ali’s decision to enroll on the single honours Psychology (BSc) degree gave his mum the extra nudge to fulfill a long-cherished dream to become a Paramedic – more than 20 years after she made her first application for such a course.
Cathy explains: “I originally applied when Ali was three months old. For many reasons I didn’t get in but I did enter the health service, working as a nurse until I joined the CTC, where I spent two very happy years with a great team.
“But the drive to become a paramedic never left me. With the University moving so close to the CTC at Waterside and with Ali signing up to study, the planets were aligned, so I went for it and applied – better late than never!”
Having his Mum on campus at the same time isn’t all bad for Ali as the two are mutually supporting each other: “Of course, it’s great to have a free lift into the Park & Ride facility at Sixfields, but our skills and knowledge complement each other quite well.
“Mum’s health background bolsters the biological side of my course and I pass on tips for writing articles in an academic way to her. It also helps that we are both getting used to using University systems and support at the same time!”
Cathy added: “Although I’m only a couple of months into the course, I’m already quite competitive with Ali – if he gets 99% in his exams, I’ll have to aim for one point more!”
Despite the generational gap, both have been enjoying their studies – for different reasons. Ali says: “The lecturers are great and, even though Psychology is a huge cohort, our modules are split into small groups, so we get lots more concentrated time with them and can easily arrange 121s.”
Cathy’s thirst for knowledge has been easily quenched by her teaching and learning: “When a lecture finishes I think ‘No – more! More!’ I’m absolutely soaking all of it up and the facilities here are fantastic. Even the training mannequins’ lips turn blue as their oxygen levels go down. They have real pulses and they shout and cry – they do everything!”
Although Cathy’s last official studying day was back in the late 70’s, this didn’t put her off becoming a mature student – and she feels strongly that it shouldn’t for others: “It’s true that I am – probably – the oldest in my cohort, but the great thing about Paramedic Science at Northampton is that we have a very broad demographic. My peers range from those who are fresh out of college at 18, to me and all ages in between.
“People forget how much knowledge you already have that can be useful with academic work. Yes, there are things I have struggled with, but with the support of tutors, my group, the academic librarians, student support – and children! – there’s no reason why anyone at any age can’t go ahead and study. Also, as the kids are grown up, I can really commit to full-time, full-on studying – it’s win, win so people should just go for it.”