Hi! Please tell us more about yourself and why you decided to study with MLA College.
Before pursuing a career in the maritime industry I worked for 8 years in retail, having gained poor qualifications earlier in life I took on the challenge of gaining an OOW licence and high grades at HNC level. This empowered me to believe in myself and that a little hard work goes a long way. I didn’t stop at the HNC, I continued my studies to achieve high marks at HND level and then pushed myself to complete the BSc with the knowledge that hard work pays off.
At the age of 30 I now believe I have completely turned my life around and now work as a 3rd Officer with Carnival UK and with a BSc Hons to my name. My passion to continue to academically move forwards hasn’t stopped here though as I’m now looking to continue my studies in line with my interests.
MLA college was my college of choice to pursue the BSc as they understand seafarers needs and work patterns and were completely flexible around my needs. I genuinely believe choosing MLA was the best choice to accommodate my needs.
Please tell us more about your programme of study and why you chose it?
I chose to top up my HND in Nautical Science to a BSc Hons in Sustainable Maritime Operations because it was the course that offered natural progression from my previous qualifications and was also the most suited to where I currently am in my maritime career.
The programme was split into various modules relevant to being involved in the modern maritime sector and covered areas such as law, environmentalism, meteorology and future concepts to name a few, which certainly supplemented my current career path. Each module was well thought out with educational videos and access to a supervisor for additional support when required. There was also a great online forum that I utilised so that I could communicate with fellow peer students, the additional engagement of this thoroughly helped. I found it refreshing that I didn’t need access to the internet for the majority of my studies (I was sent a memory stick with all the academic module videos on which enabled me to work away whilst in the mid-Atlantic with little access to the internet).
How was your online learning experience? What are some of the challenges you faced in the beginning and how did the College help you overcome them?
My online learning experience was smooth and refreshing (as mentioned before I didn’t necessarily need access to the internet to complete some of my studies), the course material was informative and well structured and was up to date and relevant. If there was a subject area that I was particularly struggling on, then I would simply log on to my online student forum and ask fellow students, quite often my tutor would also comment which would solidify my learning further. If at any time I really was stuck then my tutor was there to personally support me. I recall once or twice having in-depth video calls with my tutor to help put me at ease and help send me in the right direction. This combined with regular tutorials meant that I was always appraised of where I should be at each point of the course.
What are the positives to you personally about studying a distance learning course?
The greatest positive would have been the flexibility, as an active seafarer I am often away from home for long periods, so it was refreshing to be able to defer a module for when I was back home from sea, and it was great to have all the academic staff understand and help me work around my sea rotations when required.
Was it challenging balancing other responsibilities with your studies?
Honestly, yes. When COVID-19 hit I was early on in my studies and the world closed down. As a seafarer this was an extremely hard time for me personally, especially the toll that isolation onboard ships and shore had on my mental health at the time. The college was extremely understanding and really helped me get through the tough times and complete my studies. I will sincerely appreciate the effort that the college went through to help me get through those times and eventually complete my studies with a good result.
How did you find the learning materials? Was it easy to understand and learn?
The learning materials were relevant, methodical and really informative. The online materials are also available offline through a memory stick that was sent to me for each module and all videos were accompanied by a transcript for those that prefer to read. So overall, the material was highly informative and accessible for a variety of different learning styles.
What was the support like from your lecturers and other MLA staff?
As answered above, my personal tutor and academic staff really did get me through the tough times of studying in the pandemic. I honestly don’t think they would realise how much their support had positively affected me, but I will forever be grateful.
If you completed an independent research project as part of your programme, tell us more about it.
My dissertation thesis was based around the Covid-19 pandemic and conducted at the height of the pandemic for seafarers. I conducted research with international seafarers and compared their lived experiences with the legislation requirements of the Maritime Labor Convention, 2006. This international convention allows seafarers access to certain rights such as shore leave, medical assistance and repatriation. The thesis analysed whether seafarers were getting access to their legitimate rights and looked at opportunities to improve the legislation in the future. It was fun and interesting to complete this research as it was completed live as the pandemic was happening.
How did your career progress once you graduated?
I would say the knowledge gained by completing my degree has made me a generally more knowledgeable seafarer, the skills learned have certainly made me better at academic writing and analysis and in turn this will help my future career ambitions. I also have an interest in Maritime Law, borne out of the law module of my degree and as a result have recently been accepted into a graduate programme to study an LLB in Law, this has allowed me to go straight to year 2 of a 3 year degree. I would never have envisaged myself being here had I not completed my BSc top up with MLA.
What are the top three skills you gained from MLA College that you are still using today as a professional?
Would you recommend other potential students to study with MLA College, if so, why?
As a seafarer I would say that MLA really understand the work schedule that we do, and offer the flexibility and support that I genuinely don’t believe I would have got anywhere else. They also really care, and in this day and age is something special, I really did feel like a part of something rather than just a number. I would recommend anybody to pick up the phone with MLA and chat to them about future studies.
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