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Emergency workers’ degree successes

From left: Carl Connors, Scott Beaton and Ben Carlin graduating at our Degree Ceremony in October 2022

The Open University (OU) has many students who combine degree studies alongside vital frontline emergency service and armed forces roles.

Scott Beaton, Carl Connors and Ben Carlin have shared the focus and determination which culminated in them each crossing the stage at recent graduation ceremonies.

Flexible OU study fitted in with their busy professional and personal schedules.

Scott Beaton has a BA (Honours) Politics, Philosophy and Economics degree. A firefighter with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service in his home town of Greenock, he says:

“I undertook the course to give me something to focus on after my wife, Lorna, was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer. Lorna passed away in 2019 however with the support of my family and work colleagues I continued with my studies.

“I found that studying and working as well as managing everyday life was quite challenging, however with good time management, commitment and staying focused on the task, all characteristics of emergency service workers, I completed the course and the sense of achievement made all the sacrifice and effort worthwhile.

“I would certainly encourage any emergency service worker to undertake OU study as I found the shift patterns that many emergency service workers perform actually assisted my studies - I found I was off duty as family members were at work or school allowing me the free time to study in peace!”

Carl Connors qualified with a BSc (Honours) Computing, IT and Business degree. A firefighter with the Royal Air Force, at RAF Lossiemouth Fire Section in Moray, he says:

“Completing this degree within three years of study, along with full time military employment has had some unique challenges.

“This made increasingly complex with an array of military engagements, in which I have taken remote working to a somewhat different level than some, studying in an array of austere locations.

“In short, my mobile phone hotspot has proven its worth on many occasions during my studies.

 Ben Carlin, Scott Beaton and Carl Connors photographed on the steps of the Royal Glasgow Concert Hall for our Degree Ceremony 2022

“Ultimately, I believe my determination and desire to learn more than I did in my younger years were the key drivers keeping me working to my three-year study plan. Along with very rigid time management prioritising my primary military roles.”

Ben Carlin, a Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Watch Commander who stays in Central Scotland near Falkirk, has a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) History degree.

Ben works within Operations Frontline Support and says: “I wanted a university that had a good reputation and allowed flexibility. I was in the cinema and saw an advert for the OU and thought ‘that’s for me’.”

“I knew I was capable of achieving a degree and I’m really proud of achieving it. I am glad I chose The Open University as it allowed me to work around my work, hobby and family commitments.”

Ben’s degree has also helped drive his career success. As well as previous promotions, he was inspired to apply for the Station Commander Campaign 2022, and is now successfully awaiting a suitable vacancy.

“This new role will provide further opportunities for me to work with local partners and within communities to help make a difference to the wellbeing and safety of the people of Scotland,” Ben says.

I am glad I chose The Open University as it allowed me to work around my work, hobby and family commitments.

Scott, Carl and Ben collected their degrees at Open University graduation ceremonies this October in Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.

Registration for Open University courses starting in February closes on 12 January 2023.

Photos by Mick McGurk

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