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Published 5th Feb 2018

Tori Stephenson in Middlesbrough College STEM Centre's Process Hall

A Teesside mum-of-one is launching a new career for herself thanks to Middlesbrough College – and now she’s encouraging other women to follow suit.

Tori Stephenson, 36, received an Access to Higher Education (HE) diploma from Middlesbrough College and is now in her final year of studying for a Master’s degree in chemical engineering.

Tori, a former bank worker, decided to retrain after having her daughter and relocating to the North East to be closer to her parents.

She explained: “I left school after my GCSES and went straight to work. I knew I wanted to go back to education but wasn’t sure what I wanted to do or how to get there.

“I’ve always enjoyed maths so when I found out about the Access to Higher Education engineering course at Middlesbrough College it sounded perfect.”

Access to HE diplomas offer an alternative route for people who want to go on to university but don’t have traditional qualifications. The year-long courses equip students with the skills and know-how required for further study.

The College offer 15 diplomas across a range of subjects, including business, healthcare and computing.

After completing an Access course, students can progress to further study at degree level.

Engineering students can choose between a selection of specialist HND/HNC engineering pathways including mechanical, electronic, manufacturing and instrumentation – all of which are validated by Pearson Education.

Tori said: “I was apprehensive about returning to education after so long but the course really helped me to hit the ground running and prepare myself for the workload and fast pace of university study.”

As one of only a handful of women on her course, Tori now wants to encourage other women to consider engineering as a career option.

She said: “Traditionally engineering is a male dominated field but there’s no reason that should be the case.

 “The number of women engineers is on the rise and I found it very encouraging to have so many female lecturers.

“If you’re considering returning to education as a mature student then I’d definitely recommend thinking about engineering.

 “I love it, it’s the best thing I’ve ever done!”

Lecturer Tim Ong added: “Tori is a focused and driven young lady who strives to understand the science of engineering theory and the craft of its skilled application. 

“Adding the interpersonal skills honed from her previous customer-centred career will make Tori a very capable engineer for a prospective employer.”



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