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Angela Sheridan

Career Path: Foundation Development Officer, Durham Cricket Foundation
Location: Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

I thoroughly loved studying three dimensional design at Northumbria University, Art and Design based topics were always a huge passion of mine. I loved my tutors; Andy, Trevor, Jan, John, Stewart and Mick and I learned so much. After university, I wasn't sure how I wanted to use my degree, so I took some time out, and worked for a year. It was at that job, that I realised what I wanted to do. At school Design and Technology was taught to me by old men who were very scary in their disposition and not inspiring at all. I figured that with my passion for the subject, I could go into teaching and deliver DT in a way that inspired the next generation, including more females into the subject.

Having my degree already from Northumbria, and having been left a year, when I looked into a teaching qualification; I was regarded as 'a professional going into teaching'. I managed to get a grant because design and technology was classed as a shortage subject. I studied a PGCE in Secondary Design & Technology at Sunderland University, one year after graduating from Northumbria. From this I got a job teaching design and technology in a comprehensive school in Peterlee. This was a huge eye opener as the area was in such deprivation and a lot of the female students I taught didn't think they could aspire to be anything other than wives, or mothers. It became my mission to encourage the female students that they could be those things and have a successful career. We entered competitions, we took part in a scheme called Business Magnates to produce new products and we competed with other schools in the country. We won best idea for one of our challenges.

After nine years at the school, I left because I was pregnant with my first son. I decided to work flexibly around my newborn so I worked in the supply field, and then I had my second little boy. I continued to teach all over the region, working for the supply agency, and I really enjoyed visiting lots of different schools. I worked in supply for 7 years. I also established my face painting business during this time, which I still run now. This was a real passion of heart and I still adore painting faces now. Before the pandemic, I was gaining lots of traction, and getting some big clients, then 2020 happened and the world stopped. All of my employment ceased, and I wasn't sure what was going to happen next. As well as face painting and supply teaching, I also used to facilitate a small knitting and natter group at Durham Cricket Club. During the pandemic I was contacted by the Club and I assumed I would be asked to disband my little group, but to my amazement I was asked if I'd like more work! A position had come up to expand the Foundation and they needed someone to deliver crafts!

What are you doing now?

Following this amazing and unexpected phone call, I now work for Durham Cricket Foundation. Our initiative 'Active minds, active bodies' is for anyone over 50, and we encourage positive mental health through crafts and outdoor activities. I absolutely love going to work every day, and the people I have met have become really wonderful friends. It's like having a class full of aunties or nanas, they're all so lovely, and they've become good friends and confidants. It's really special, and I feel like I'm making a bigger difference than the 17 years I taught in secondary schools, although I enjoyed my time there too.

What was it about Northumbria that made you decide to study here?

The course at Northumbria was the best in the country for what I wanted to do. It was close to where I lived too, so it meant I could be a full-time student and return home to my family at the end of the day.

What was it like studying at Northumbria?

There were a whole host of lectures, seminars and classes. We spent lots of time in workshops making things, we attended whole group lectures with other design students from other course too.

How connected was your course with industry?

We had lectures with really great people who worked in the industry, and we completed competition work.

What was the best thing about your course?

The range of subject content we received. The projects were varied too from conceptual to actual real problem solving.

How did studying at Northumbria help you achieve your career goals/ give your career an edge?

I think Northumbria University provided me not only with a plethora of knowledge that I couldn't wait to take back to the school setting, but it also gave me confidence in my own skill set, that I could do this subject well. I could draw, I could create, and I was capable of doing well. At the time, I was the first member of my household to have gone to university, since then, my three siblings have university degrees now, and my mother went to university as a mature student too, so 5/6 of us are now university qualified and above.

Which skills/knowledge did you learn on your course that you use most now throughout your career?

Planning - everything I do goes from thinking of a problem to solve, and designing a solution, my mark making skills come directly from my degree, finding tools and equipment that help with the job. I have an awareness and appreciation of the time and effort that goes into something much more now, due to my own time and effort throughout all of my projects.

What did you enjoy most about your time at Northumbria University?

The lectures, the people, the projects, the staff, the resources and the facilities.

What advice would you give somebody who is considering studying at Northumbria?

I would say, research the courses first. Make sure you are embarking on a great course. Go with an open mind, and a real willingness to learn. Some of the things you might think are irrelevant at the time, you will use in your everyday life thereafter. I still quote the lecturers who told me exciting and enlightening tales whist in their classes to this day.

How would you describe your time at Northumbria in three words?

Enchanting, educational and inspiring.

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