Karen Howell celebrated her first steps towards a new career in social work when she graduated from Robert Gordon University this week.
The former dental nurse decided to seek a new career that would put her in closer contact with people. Four years ago, she chose to begin a BA (Hons) degree in Social Work at the university.
Despite having to commute every day from her home on Coleburn Court in Elgin - a 140 mile round trip - Karen (42) made the best of her studies and was motivated by the prospect of a new direction in her career.
Aside from the mammoth commute, Karen also juggled her studies with family commitments including acting as primary carer for her father who lives with dementia and, tragically, a terminal lung condition. In addition, she has held down a part-time job as a relief worker in a woman's refuge.
Karen graduated at 10.30am on Wednesday 13 July in a ceremony held in His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen. She was joined on the day by her partner David Hoyle (44) and son Martin Howell (24). She hopes to secure a job in children and families social work or in the field of domestic abuse.
Looking back on her time at the university Karen said: "My message to others in a similar position would be that anything is possible. Although circumstances have been challenging the tutors have been very supportive and life always seems to have a way of working out.
"My highlight of the course was gaining an 'A' for my dissertation on domestic abuse and my successful undertaking of a 4th year placement within a children and families team in Moray. I gained so much experience and knowledge through my course that I feel equipped to step out into the field of social work.
"Over the last four years I've met some amazing people including staff, fellow students, service users and professionals. I feel like I've made some lifelong friends who I will keep in touch with now that we are venturing out into the world of work."
Robert Gordon University
Tel: 01224 262389