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From Adversity to a Rewarding Career – Swansea Local James Shares his Story

James Morgan, a graduate of Education Studies at University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s (UWTSD) shares insights about his experience as a mature student navigating higher education and discovering self-belief.

(Pictured: UWTSD graduate, James Owen working with a group of school children in his role with Ambassador Theatre Group based in Swansea Arena)

James, who is from Swansea, came to UWTSD as a mature student in his early 30s. Growing up with a difficult home-life that led to him to being homeless at one stage of his teen years, education was not at the forefront of his mind, and he left school with 5 GCSEs.

At 29, with plenty of work experience but nowhere to progress in his career, James decided that after 14 years out of education, it was his time to return; to earn a degree that would allow him to explore a new career and support and inspire his young and growing family.

He gained his Bachelor’s in Education Studies from UWTSD’s Carmarthen campus in 2016.

James said:

“I played up a lot in school, which on reflection, was probably attention seeking to make up for the lack of it I had in my home-life which sadly involved drug and alcohol addiction, violence and abandonment.

“I was inspired to go down the route of Education Studies because I wanted to be in some sort of role providing support to children who may have experienced similar upbringings to my own.”

After graduating, James went on to have a career that gave him a sense of purpose and satisfaction working for charities and a further education college, helping young people from a range of backgrounds develop their potential.

Now working in a role as a Creative Learning Producer for Ambassador Theatre Group based in Swansea Arena, he is giving back to the community, encouraging children and young people to practice their creativity through music and performance, and raising their aspirations.

James said:

“Though I didn’t follow a teaching path, my degree opened doors I never knew existed. I’m able to apply so much of what I learnt on my degree to my role today, including transferable skills and classroom management that I practiced on school placements, as well as an understanding of the education system and learning theories. I’m able to apply these as I deliver projects with school and community groups from the ages of three years old up to adulthood.”

More recently, James worked on a large-scale project called House Party at Swansea Arena in collaboration with UWTSD’s first-year Tourism and Events students which enabled groups of bands under the age of 26 to perform for the first time at a major venue.

For James, this was another rewarding experience helping young people see their potential and raising their confidence, whilst also giving back to the university student experience through providing this placement to our students as part of their modules.

James believes that his university experience changed not only his career prospects but also his mindset.

James said:

“The course changed the way I thought about myself. I spent most of my 20s feeling as if I had failed and had thrown my chances away. I had so many knock-backs which damaged my confidence and led me to being hard on myself.

“Now I believe that the only limits you have are the ones you put on yourself. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and came out with a good degree, self-belief and resilience. What I’ve realised is that life is not a straight line, and we don’t have to follow a prescribed path. I went to university at a time that was right for me and I’m so grateful I did, because I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today had I not gone.”

UWTSD is ranked 1st in Wales and 4th in the UK for Education (Guardian University League Table 2024) 

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