Tracey McQuillian

Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Social Work (expected to graduate June 2017)

What brought you to Stirling?

I was initially drawn to Stirling because of its beautiful campus. I could immediately see myself there. The great work of Unity and the good reputation of the social work degree here also played a big part in my decision to apply and I was over the moon when I received an offer. I had not applied to any other universities as I was sure that it was Stirling University that I wanted to attend. I couldn't believe it when I was accepted.

Why Social Work?

When I left school, I had many great work opportunities, but did not have much in the way of direction. My life began to change course, which led to me becoming interested in complementary therapies. Following a successful start, I set up my own business, which I ran for ten years. During this time I noticed that many of my clients were coming to me when they had reached rock bottom, and had exhausted all other avenues. I sat with them in their pain and was privileged enough to be there when they started to believe in themselves again. I recognised that this was what I loved the most. Eventually, I came to realise that I would love to be a social worker.

I became aware of the social work degree at Stirling and was encouraged by friends and family to fulfil my dream of achieving a professional qualification. I recognised that this would be an ideal opportunity to learn and to develop my skills. Maths was not my strong-point at school, so I was pleased that Stirling allowed me to do a data skills course to evidence and develop my statistical analysis skills.

To what extent has your time here so far enhanced or broadened your thinking and career prospects and aspirations?

Being a mature student was a scary experience at first. I felt vulnerable, exposed and filled with doubt. It had always been a pipe dream for me but I worked my socks off and re-discovered my love of reading and of learning. The course has also helped me to develop emotional intelligence and self-awareness. It became both a personal and professional journey.

Throughout my professional studies, I have been a student representative for Unity, the service user and carer’s group at the University. It has been a privilege to know and work with this inspirational group. They really have made me question professional practice which in turn, has enabled me to grow as a reflective, radical practitioner with the determination to empower clients by working alongside them through meaningful partnerships. I have learned so much from them about myself, about humanity and about the type of practitioner that I plan to be.

What impact have your studies had on your future employment plans?

I started out with quite a narrow view of social work. I now see that social work exists across many sectors, including third sector, private sector and statutory sector. I’m not quite sure where I will fit. However, I suspect that I’ll end up interviewing potential employers as much as they are me. I know that I will be looking for the right team, the right support and the right role for me. I’m not totally sure where that will be yet. I’m motivated to work in a field that actively challenges stigma and oppression. I know that I’d like the room to also do research and I’d love to return to study one day, with an eventual goal being PhD study. 

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