After spending a number of years playing professional and semi-professional rugby league, Andy Grundy reached a crossroads in his working career.
With no higher education qualifications or other trade to fall back on, Andy decided to undertake a UCLan Foundation Degree in Sports Coaching at associate college, Wigan & Leigh.
Realising the importance of choosing a subject he was passionate about, Andy's ultimate aim was to pursue a career as a Sports Lecturer or Physical Education Teacher.
He commented: "I wanted to follow my passion and work in sport. My drive to become a lecturer was to give students direction, and to reinforce the endless possibilities of what can be achieved and gained, not only through sport, but also through the undertaking of academic learning and achievement.
"The route of study I chose offered me the flexibility to still continue to work, which was important as a mature student. I completed two years at Wigan and Leigh, learning the fundamental building blocks to take me onto my final top-up year at UCLan."
Andy admits his early days at UCLan were daunting, but he was intent on embracing the University culture, and utilising every resource to help him achieve what he'd set out to do.
"I took every opportunity to pursue, learn, develop, and progress that was placed at my disposal by exceptional members of staff, who would go the extra mile to help and challenge you to do better," said Andy.
"I completed my top-up year with a First Class Honours Degree, which was fantastic, and more than made up for the lost hours of sleep, and time, which I'd devoted to ensure everything I submitted was the best I could give.
"On top of all this, and more importantly for me, I'd learned so much. It had infused my appetite to continue to study, and pursue a career within the field of sports delivery, particularly in an academic teaching role."
Andy continued his personal development by undertaking a UCLan PGCE at Wigan & Leigh and securing part-time employment in a local high school. Whilst working at the school he began a UCLan Master's Degree in Physical Education and School Sport.
He added: "The Master's is diverse with regards to the module contents, for example covering pedagogical aspects of secondary teaching and delivery. It also enabled me to continue to work closely within the sports coaching remit as the modules crossed over somewhat into both categories.
"Just over a year into my studies I became a full-time Sports Lecturer at UCLan's associate college, Myerscough in Preston. Whilst studying at ULCan I've married, had two children, moved house, secured the part-time job and now this full-time role.
"I wouldn't have been able to have undertaken all these experiences and challenges without the support mechanisms that are in place at UCLan which, in my opinion, are second to none; with excellent lecturers, facilities and flexibility, which provides the more mature student the best opportunity to gain the most from the courses on offer.
"I'm due to graduate with my Master's in December, and I'm looking forward to having my daughter in the graduation picture, alongside my son and wife who've been by my side at the last two graduation ceremonies.
"I undertook the Master's for many reasons; to learn, challenge and to achieve are amongst many, but also to gauge my level of academic ability, keeping in mind my family and work commitments.
"I've been able to really push and stretch my own personal ability, and I've realised I'm capable of managing a higher level of study. This has now led me to begin the early stages of discussing the possibilities of commencing onto PHD study over the next 12 months, and I am fully looking forward to this challenge.
"I cannot think of anywhere else I would like to undertake the study than at UCLan, and I really cannot thank the members of staff enough for all their help and support."