Sarah Taylor, 34, from Penarth joined the Royal Navy at 16. She loved her role as an Operator Mechanic, working in radar, gunnery and communications and had a stint on a hospital ship in Kosovo. Although being in the Navy was something Sarah always wanted to do, she found that going away to sea wasn't really compatible with bringing up children.
Sarah had a job in the NHS as an administrator in a Cardiff hospital but found that after the Navy a desk-bound job didn't really suit her. She decided to return to study and wanted to do Forensic Biology.
She researched her options online and saw that the University of South Wales had a range of forensic courses. She came to an Open Day, found out what she needed to do to meet the entry criteria and went away and studied hard.
An Access course was her first point of call, which Sarah did over two years while she was working. She then gave up her job and did a Foundation Science year which brought her chemistry and biology up to scratch to begin a BSc (Hons) Forensic Biology degree.
As might be expected of someone who left home at 16 to go into the navy, Sarah is very determined. She gave up work to concentrate on her Foundation course and settled in very quickly. She made good friends and was pleased to see that there were other more mature students on her course. Sarah jokes that they are the 'mummies' of the group. She was pleasantly surprised that the lecturers treated her the same as the younger students and felt like she really fitted in.
Due to her studies on the Foundation course, Sarah found that she was already used to life at university and knew her way around the uni, the timetabling system and how to hand work in. Sarah is keeping an open mind about what she does in the future. She might go into the area of DNA and genetics in a laboratory setting, or she might do a Masters.
Her advice to anyone considering returning to study is: "Don't be afraid, age is just a number. It's the best decision I've ever made."