Despite facing several challenges over her lifetime, Elyse Hocking’s “go watch me” approach to life has led to her successfully entering the third year of a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Business Management with The Open University (OU).
Aged 13 months, Elyse became care experienced and was legally fostered by her maternal grandparents, who she called Mum and Dad.
She shares that they were disabled and faced other health challenges, which resulted in her taking on a role as their care giver.
Like many others who are care experienced, she left school without the qualifications she would need to attend university.
However, she says the OU “welcomed me with open arms”.
She is also grateful to Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS) for a Part-Time Fee Grant “because without it, the OU may not have been a feasible option".
"Care experienced students typically don’t have the capabilities to fund educational courses or have the grades to attend a ‘brick university’.
The funding from SAAS has allowed me to apply to the OU and achieve my potential. I will be forever grateful to both establishments for this.”
"The funding from SAAS has allowed me to apply to the OU and achieve my potential. I will be forever grateful to both establishments for this.”
When she enrolled for her degree, Elyse’s health was “on a downward spiral” but she was adamant that she would push ahead with her studies.
She manages multiple health conditions, which includes attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression and anxiety, and chronic pain due to the illnesses neuralgia and fibromyalgia.
Alongside managing her health, she also works full-time and is a mum to three teenage boys.
Determined to complete her studies, she explains: “My motivation comes from my family. I do this for them.
"No one in my family has attended or completed any university courses, and I want to show my sons that even when things get tough trying is better than not doing.
"I want to improve my prospects in employment to also secure their future. This is what drives me.”
The business student has found that support from the OU has “been incredible”, explaining: “The OU are aware that I have conditions that may affect my study.
"Although I haven’t actioned any assistance (I’m slightly stubborn and have a ‘I’ll do it myself’ mentality), it hasn’t stopped the support teams from reaching out to ask if there is anything they can do to assist. I’m always grateful for those communications.”
She has also received funding through the Care Experienced Students’ Bursary so she could purchase a new computer for her studies that “allowed me to take better notes, to organise my study materials digitally, and to also communicate to others via webcam”.
Elyse previously volunteered as an OU Students Association representative “because of my gratitude for what the OU do for those who face many barriers in their study and life. No other university offers as much support with an unbiased mentality like the OU”.
“Taking on the role of rep I wanted others to know just what the OU can do for them. Many are unaware of what access they have,” she says.
Since beginning her degree, Elyse has already begun to apply her learning at work. She explains: “Going into the degree I initially presumed… I would dislike anything to do with strategy management. However, it’s one of my favourite topics, so much so I chose Strategic Management as one of my next courses.
"I have been able to apply this to my role in HR, as our company focusses greatly on strategy as we manoeuvre in global markets.”
She adds that her management studies are giving her a better understanding of the different departments that make up the international manufacturing company she is employed by.
Take the leap. You may believe that you can’t do it, or that it will be too difficult, or you will struggle, but how will you know unless you try.”
“It will allow me to understand each department and how their department fits into the greater jigsaw puzzle.
"It gives me insight into why we’re asked to do something and how it should be done to better suit that department with their tasks,” she says.
Once she graduates, the Glenrothes-based student is interested in using her new understanding of business, strategy and economics to become a local councillor.
To anyone thinking about studying with the OU, Elyse urges: “Take the leap. You may believe that you can’t do it, or that it will be too difficult, or you will struggle, but how will you know unless you try.
"Genuinely there is so much community and support that I am absolutely sure you will thrive.”