Derek Paton

BA Teaching Qualification for Further Education (with distinction)

I left school at sixteen years old with little in the way of qualifications and joined Her Majesties Royal Marine Commandoes. I travelled the world as a young man, saw active service in the Falklands as a 19 year old troop GPMG gunner and was in service in San Francisco after I left the Marines during the devastating earthquake of 1989. Shortly after my return home and that chapter of my life closed I joined the Police Force and have now been a serving officer for over twenty five years. My background has been varied and eventful to say the least.

What made you want to progress into further education?  

My career in the police force has been incredibly rewarding and enjoyable to date; ultimately, it was what led me to become an instructor in the Crime Management Division at Tulliallan Police College. After several years with the college I was lucky enough to be afforded the opportunity to enrol in a Diploma of Higher Education programme, which I successfully completed two years ago. Whilst in my last year there, Professor Kevin Brosnan, current programme director of the TQFE programme at Stirling, attended at the college and spoke to a group of us about the BA course. I never saw myself in further education at any stage of my life but on completion of my DiPHE I recognised that with some hard work and determination, prospects outwith my comfort zone were not only possible but achievable.

Why Stirling?

I was born and raised locally and even remember being at primary school waving flags as the University was opened by the Queen! The some time later, in the early 90s, I played centre forward for a couple of years for the University of Stirling football team. It was often joked that I spent so much time at the university I should have graduated! It felt right to actually become a student at a place I had spent so much of my childhood and adult life. Part of me also believed this would be my last opportunity before I retire from the force if I wished like to take up a teaching position at the College in the future.

Did Stirling and your programme live up to your expectations?

I found the course to be quite challenging at points particularly in terms of managing the diverse and complex roles I play in life. Personally the deadlines, although a little daunting at first, helped me cope as they forced me to be more disciplined and accountable. The staff were also very helpful and always available and keen to assist where they could, which made such a positive difference.

Being local has meant my family and I have been able to take full advantage of the magnificent facilities and beautiful campus the university has to offer. 

What advice would you give to someone considering studying at Stirling?

I never thought it possible but I am truly thrilled to have gained this degree. My career has been my focus for many years but the degree has forced me out of my comfort zone and to develop my skillset and knowledge, which ultimately will allow me to help others.  Yes it is hard work but if you have the opportunity, the end result is well worth the effort.