Education just crept-up on a former factory worker now conducting ground-breaking research into hoverflies at a North East university.
Dan Thomas Reed, from Fencehouses, Houghton-le-Spring, always had a fascination with creepy-crawlies and thanks to Sunderland College has been able to follow his passion.
The soon-to-be doctor is studying for a PHD at Newcastle University and has given a talk on his research at London’s prestigious Natural History Museum.
Dan, 36, only decided to pursue his dream aged 30 when he realised that life in a factory making car parts wasn’t for him.
Dan said: “I had never spent much time thinking about what I wanted to do with my life so when I reached 30 I thought it was about time I did.
“I had always been interested in insects so decided I wanted to do a degree in Zoology.
“I had no previous qualifications so decided the best option for me was to enrol on an access course with Sunderland College – I’m so glad I did.”
Dan enrolled on the one year Access Higher Education course. The course covered everything Dan needed to prepare him for higher education.
Dan picked certain modules, such as Biology, that would help him when applying for university.
Dan added: “The course was fantastic and gave me a lot of confidence and I felt positive about applying for university.
“There were a lot of people in a similar position to me which helped.
“Once finished I was accepted onto the Zoology course and have never really looked back. I’m now studying for a PHD and doing something I love.”
Dan’s research looks at whether hoverflies can recognise good and bad smells in order to find food in a similar way to how bees do.
Although the research is still in its early stages it appears that they do – something that has never been observed before.
Dan’s research is attracting further interest and he has now been asked to speak at the Animal Behaviour conference hosted by the International Ethological Association at The Sage, Gateshead, on Sunday, August 4 to Thursday, August 8.
Ann Inkson, access to higher education curriculum leader at Sunderland College, said: “Dan has experienced the most dramatic of career changes.
“He knew exactly what he wanted to do so to see him achieving his dream is fantastic.
“Every year we help lots of adult students looking to get into university and change their career path.
And finally the last level of your term paper writing is editing. To make an impartial estimation of your work you have to read it as if it was an unfamiliar writing of somebody else. The best way to do it is when several days have passed since the moment of finishing writing.
And you will be even surprised how easy it will be for you to make remarks of your paper and create some new ideas which could be a good edition to your term paper.
“We have a range of course and finance options available so I urge anyone who is interested in following the route Dan has taken to get in touch.”
Once qualified Dan hopes to pursue his research further and eventually teach other Zoology students.
Dan said: “If I could offer any advice it would be that whatever you do in life make sure it’s something you love.”
For more information on Sunderland College’s Access Higher Education courses call 0191 511 6000.