Inspirational young mum Chevonne Lawson has been telling MPs how she transformed herself - from an ‘in care’ troubled youth to an adult learner studying for a degree in Criminology.
Chevonne and her Sunderland College lecturer of five years Katherine Bone headed for a Parliamentary Reception at the House of Commons as part of National Adult Learners Week.
The 22-year-old mum is studying for a degree in Criminology but not that long ago she was in care and pregnant.
She was invited to the event in London after winning a national award that recognised her hard work and dedication.
Chevonne, from Town End Farm, Sunderland, said: “Attending the reception at the Houses of Parliament was quite an experience and something I couldn’t have imagined doing just a few years ago.
“I had quite a troubled upbringing and after a violent relationship life wasn’t quite going the way I planned.
“There was a lot of trouble on the estate where I lived and when I found out I was pregnant I decided I didn’t want the same for my daughter Saskia, now four.
“I needed a change and enrolled on a Level 1 Connect course at Sunderland College and I’ve never looked back.
“I’ve worked hard and kept at it and the support and advice I’ve been given from staff at Sunderland College has been second to none.”
Chevonne learning while at school was hampered due to dyslexia and dyspraxia but with excellent support from Sunderland College she is now studying for a degree in Criminology at Sunderland University.
Now engaged to fiancé Gavin and mum to a son, also called Gavin aged two and step-mum to her fiancées daughter Katie, seven, she wants to put her experiences to good use by setting up her own courses to work with youth offenders and the homeless.
Lecturer Katherine said: “Chevonne’s story is fantastic and shows what can be achieved with commitment, hard work and the level of support offered at Sunderland College.
“Chevonne is one of many adult learners we have at the College who are shaping their futures, and doing it while working, caring for young children, and in some cases both.
“We try our very best at Sunderland College to help all our students, whatever their individual circumstances, to be the best that they can be through a programme of quality education, teaching and support.”
Michelle Elliott, Head of Employer and Employability at Sunderland College, said: “The College has a lot to offer adult learners.
“We have a generous support package and can help people with all they need to know about fees and financing.
“We aim to make getting higher and adult education qualifications as fuss free as possible.”
The achievements of all adult learners are being recognised across the College.
One learner who is celebrating is Wayne Barber.
Wayne was made redundant as a miner from Easington Colliery nearly 20 years ago and has been unemployed ever since.
The 53-year-old has now enrolled on a construction course and is enjoying learning new skills that he hopes will land him permanent employment.
Wayne said: “Returning to education has shown me that you’re never too old to learn something new.
“I find learning stimulating and for the first time in a long time I’m feeling positive about getting out and looking for work.
“I’m keen to put my new skills to the test.”