When Natalie Kneen undertook the Functional English and Maths courses at University College Isle of Man (UCM) to help her children with their homework, she didn’t realise it would be the start of her learning journey at the College, which has now brought her closer to her dream of opening up her own bakery.
In the beginning, all Natalie Kneen wanted was to be able to help her children with their Maths and English homework, so she decided to study the Functional Maths and English courses at University College Isle of Man (UCM).
Natalie passed both courses with flying colours, “I’m so pleased that I did these courses, I am now reaping the benefits of having improved my English and Maths and am much more able to support my children with their school work.”
‘Giving it a go’
Her English teacher saw Natalie’s potential and encouraged her to progress in her studies and as Natalie has always had an interest in cookery, the Hospitality and Catering course seemed like the ideal choice.
At first, Natalie wasn’t confident she would be able to progress in her studies, but after some coaxing from her tutor and once she had reflected on her recent academic achievements, Natalie decided to ‘give it a go’ and she hasn’t looked back since.
During the first year of her the NVQ Professional Food & Drink (Level 2) course, Natalie received the ‘best student’ award at the UCM Further Education Awards 2019. She is currently in her second year and is really enjoying her study.
“The practical aspect of the course means that I can practice everything that I learn in the training kitchen and bakery at UCM. In addition to that, my tutors are fantastic! They are always challenging me to work to the best of my abilities, and I enjoy that because it encourages me to improve my own performance.”
Alongside studying, Natalie is also working as a chef at the Premier Inn and this experience, coupled with the knowledge and skills she has developed in the last few years, has given her the confidence to believe that she can have a future in the hospitality & catering industry.
“When I found I was celiac, I realised there is a gap in the market for gluten free food. My plan is to open up a bakery that specialises in gluten free food, once I have completed my studies at UCM.”
Looking back, Natalie is so pleased with her ‘unexpected’ learning journey, “I can’t believe how far I’ve come – it is amazing! My advice to those who are considering to further their studies is to ‘just do it’! If you are unsure, you should talk to the tutors at UCM and perhaps study the introductory level course to see if you would enjoy it; you have nothing to lose and everything to gain including a new career!’