Brendan Hopkins, 33, from the Rhondda, is studying a football coaching degree at USW.
"A few years ago, I quit a good job to go back into education. It was a risk but one that has paid off.
"I am now in my final year of a football degree and on placement with the FAW – a dream come true for someone like me.
"Before I came to USW, I was working in the insurance industry.
"I’d been there since school and had done well, working my way up to a management role but my heart wasn’t in it.
"Being in a job you don’t enjoy takes its toll. More than anything, I wanted to look forward to going to work in the morning.
"I knew I had to retrain, so I picked a course in football coaching. I’d always loved football and this seemed a good enough place to start.
"I applied via UCAS Clearing and started at USW all within the space of two weeks.
"My biggest concern was how I would afford university, especially with a young family to support. But help was available from Student Finance Wales, so the decision was quite easy.
""As a mature student, I am much better prepared to study than I was at eighteen.
"I understand that experience and contacts are everything, so I have taken every opportunity offered to me – putting myself forward, volunteering and working hard.
"The coaching course introduced me to a role at a Cardiff City ADC.
"Cardiff City were happy with my performance and asked me to set up and head the ADC at Ton Pentre which is now in its second season and has been very successful.
"This season, I was approached by Cambrian Academy to coach within their foundation phase as head coach of the Under 9’s team.
"I’m now on placement with the FAW Trust. One of my tasks is to increase participation within girls’ football so I’m running football festivals for girls within primary schools and linking them into local grassroots community football clubs.
"All these experiences have offered me an incredible amount of experience and got my name out there.
"Uni has been a great experience for me. It’s always a worry to change direction. You mull over ‘should I, shouldn’t I?’, but I am so glad I did.
"My life has completely changed in the space of just a few years – firstly because I was brave enough to make changes, but also because of all the opportunities I’ve had at university.
"I’m graduating in July and feel very happy about my future.
"I now have a lot to offer the industry and I’m excited to see where my career will take me."