Dedicated lecturer Monica Pizzoli, has provided outstanding support to her students throughout the pandemic despite managing a health condition.
The Access to Higher Education (HE) lecturer at Sunderland College has remained positive since she was diagnosed with Leukemia and has continued to support and inspire her students in following their career and life ambitions.
Being classed as clinically extremely vulnerable, Monica has been teaching from home throughout the pandemic. She has been determined not to allow her illness or the pandemic to disadvantage her students. She said:
“Being able to continue doing a job that I love and giving hope to my students that they too can overcome difficulties, has helped me hugely and has given me a purpose. I’m a positive person and the support I’ve received from my students and the staff at the college means that I can still live my life and give something back to my wonderful students.”
Monica has been teaching adults on the Access to Higher Education (HE) programme at Sunderland College’s Washington campus for nine years. She is a former Access student herself, studying at Sunderland College in 2010 and progressing to Sunderland University where she gained a first-class degree in Education. She said:
“Access is a wonderful field to teach as it’s about giving adults a second chance. We create a positive and nurturing culture among our diverse student community and celebrate our weaknesses as they allow us to develop. I show students that it’s never too late to follow their dreams and encourage them to believe in themselves. My students are all amazing and give me the strength to keep going.”
Monica, who is originally from Ancona in Italy, moved to England in 1992. She made the North East her home after feeling welcomed by the genuine and friendly people in the region and now lives in Sunderland. She said she is grateful to her students and the support she has received from the college:
“I’ve always had amazing support from colleagues, college staff (refectory staff, caretakers, library staff, cleaners, the IT Service Desk, the learning technologists, curriculum managers and reception staff) and students. There are so many examples of how they have individually supported me and how things have been adapted to meet my needs and I can’t thank them enough.”
Monica was recently nominated by three separate students for Hail your Heroes, a campaign by The Sun on Sunday, for her commitment and dedication to teaching and supporting her students throughout the pandemic.
32-year-old Access to HE student, April Hood, who is studying on the education pathway at Sunderland College said:
“When I first met Monica, she came across as such a positive, upbeat person who was happy in her job. As time went by, the rest of the class and I learned she had been diagnosed with Leukemia and was receiving treatment whilst continuing to teach us. We couldn’t believe how Monica had remained so happy, upbeat and positive and inspired us to follow our dreams of teaching, whilst going through so much herself.
“Once the pandemic hit us again, Monica was devastated that she was forced to work from home due to being clinically extremely vulnerable. She was worried she was letting us down, which of course she was not. She educated us all on how to work effectively and productively from home and ensured we were confident to do so.”
April, who lives in Washington, said as a mature student she was concerned about studying from home and credits Monica for empowering her to adapt to remote learning. She continues:
“I must admit, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get to grips with technology while studying from home, however, Monica excelled in her teaching methods. I have achieved Distinctions in my work that was carried out from home and I am thrilled. I simply could not have done this without her help, positivity and guidance. She goes out of her way to help myself and other students, no matter how tough her circumstances are.
“I speak on behalf of myself, my classmates and Monica’s past students when I say that she is everything we all strive to be as teachers. We are very lucky to have met her and will miss her hugely when our course is finished.”
The Access to Higher Education Diploma is a qualification that prepares adults, who do not have the traditional qualifications for entry onto a degree, for university level study. Find out more information about Access to Higher Education courses at Sunderland College.
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