From a single mom to a Warwick student in social studies: hear Cecile’s story

Cecile standing in front of a building on Warwick campus

Happily studying a degree at University of Warwick and aspiring to study and work in an area she likes didn’t happen by chance for Cecile. In fact, it takes a chain of events and loads of encouragement, curiosity, and support. The conversation with Cecile illustrates her incredible journey as a single parent, a university student, and an aspiring person in life.

Being made redundant at work was a good thing in retrospective

“Originally from France, I have been living in the UK for 22 years. I was working as a PA and many temporary jobs, having various experiences within big companies. I then worked within the food industry as an account manager. I like to be in a role where I engage with people, so I enjoyed it. Unfortunately, I was soon made redundant. I was extremely frustrated when I was told I needed to improve my technical skills, because I worked extremely hard as a single parent.

I found that difficult, but I do believe that that is a part of life–things do happen for a reason, but sometimes it doesn’t happen with the nicest feeling.

When I was searching for a new job, my friend who had recently completed the 2+2 Social Studies at University of Warwick, inspired me to do the course. Back in France, I studied one year at university before I went to do an apprenticeship. So, at first, I had many doubts, but my friend told me it was a fantastic opportunity to get an education without A-Levels and to go into a field where I want to be. I had a light bulb moment and realised that it could be a good idea”.

Cecile is now a full-time student in 2+2 Social Studies at University of Warwick

It’s special when my son is studying GCSEs, I’m studying my degree alongside him

“I have been a single parent for at least 10 years. When I was working, I found it difficult. I had to start work early and would also be shattered at nights. Because of that I raised my son to be independent early. Now that I am in education as a single parent, I can stay and study later at the University if I want to!

My son even pointed out that I study a significant amount—yes, and I do it because I love it. And I think knowing that gave him confidence and commitment to his studies; It made our relationship positive. My son was there giving me advice on English writing. I helped him with his exams, highlighted dates and placed motivational quotes onto our fridge. There was a bonding dynamic in our relationship which was quite unique. What are the odds that this is happening during the time my son is doing his GCSEs! It’s nice for us to have an environment where you can feel free and supported to study”.

I’m incredibly grateful to my friends who encouraged me to be the curious person I am through learning

“Till this day I am grateful for my friends, as they helped me change my life. Having a great network of friends helped me hugely transitioning into my degree.

Friendship is crucial for mature students. When I first started, I didn’t know anyone, so I met people and tried to be supportive. Because for some of us, it’s brand new. But we all have different ideas and strengths to help each other out.

Looking back, I know something was missing in my life to be trueful, as I never see my life as just doing a nine-to-five job. And now I enjoy so many opportunities because I’m always a very curious person. I am a student ambassador and blogger, I go onto different events, I explore the campus and have formed connections and friendships with some people that I am not studying with”.

Now I aspire to learn more that I like and work in what I like

“This year, when I go on campus after two years of college based study, I feel really fulfilled. My understanding and need of where I want to go and who I want to be has become much clearer to me.

I love the modules I can do on the degree. I used to do sociology in France, having always been a social sciences person. I started working early then for financial reasons, and I am privileged and happy that my degree at Warwick offers bursary so I can now study. I’ve majored in politics recently and I love it, especially international politics!

My long-term idea is to be a coach working with the University in terms of engaging and helping people in life; I love the companies it offers. I love the fact that university is dynamic and open to inclusivity and diversity”.

Cecile sitting in front of one of her favourite buildings on Warwick campus

For many people like me, it’s about giving yourself a chance, I’ve been there

I” would say to anyone who are in my previous position: listen to your heart. Life can be extremely hard and it’s important to become the best version of yourself. Do whatever helps you to increase your network and relationships.

Give yourself a chance, you can do it. Set targets if needed, I have been there, just do your best”.


Wish to stay curious and true to yourself through learning? Check out if the 2+2 degree social studies pathway Cecile is on is for you.

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