Don’t give up on your dreams, it’s never too late!


It was never my destiny to go to University, or so I thought when I was growing up.

Like many of my friends, my parents hadn’t been to uni so there was no natural progression to follow, and some unexpected twists and turns in life meant that by the grand old age of 16 I was out there in the big wide world, finishing my GCSEs, finding a job, and trying to learn how to work a washing machine, feed myself and generally maintain an existence.

I wasn’t alone, I lived in a house with 4 other girls much like myself, and there, together, we had some of the worst of times and some of the best of times in our young lives.

But this is not a pity-party. In fact, party we did on occasion!

No. This is a real story of how determination can get you everywhere in life, and how it’s never too late to fulfil your dreams.

When I was little everyone used to tell me I should be a teacher. Some may have even said I was a bossy-boots…hmmm, and they may have had a point, but I’m pretty sure my siblings, neighbours, and friends enjoyed my constructive feedback, activity planning and overall direction (*cringe*).

But it wasn’t to be, my dreams had floated away and I needed a plan.

I was determined to do something that allowed me to gain some sort qualification whilst literally bringing home the bacon, and I had always liked learning so I took myself off to what was then the YTS and found a job as a Dental Nurse.

Now I could work, 40 hours a week for the grand sum of £50, and by the time I was 18 I would have a qualification too. Genius!

And I did work. I worked hard and I met some amazing people who gave me the support and encouragement I needed to move onwards and upwards…one particularly special person was in fact The Hubby.

Anyway, I digress, after a few more years, and still with that little bossy-boots in me dying to get out, I branched out and started my own dental nurse agency – I had a brilliant time being self-employed, I had made lots of friends in the industry and was never without clients.

But then having found the man of my dreams many years earlier and got married, my maternal instincts kicked in and I was ready to settle down. All I wanted to do was focus on my babies, to be a stay at home mum who baked, and played, and sung, and swam, and basically attended to my little girls’ every needs.

And so I did. And believe me, I know how lucky I was to be able to stay at home with my girls.

But as time ticked on, and the nursery-rhymes gathered pace in my head, I began to lose my sparkle. My fizz went flat.

That little bossy-boots in me was still desperate to get out and my love of learning had nearly driven The Hubby crazy with my constant need to ‘study’ everything, from paint colours to recipes, pram-construction to child health and safety. You name it, I took it on like a new project, every day I found something new to learn myself, or to teach the girls.

I physically couldn’t love my children any more than I already did, but that pesky dream just kept coming back to haunt me. I just couldn’t stop wondering what I could have been if I’d had the chance when I was younger.

So after much umming and ahhing we agreed that I needed to do more, before I drove myself and everyone around me mad.

It was decided that I should try to finally accomplish my dream of going to Uni. If nothing else, I would never rest until I’d tried.

I knew it would be a long road, I didn’t even have A-levels to fall back on, but there was no way that was going to stop me. So with my two girls aged 3 and 5 I started my journey back into education.

It started with an Access Course at the local college, as well as an evening course to pack in an extra GSCE that I would need if I wanted to teach.

I juggled this along with the childcare (luckily I’m a bit of a night-owl) and then it was crunch-time. What was I going to apply to study at Uni? I thought I wanted to be a teacher, but really I knew deep down that it was other people who thought I should teach. Now that I was a mum I knew that I’d found having two little minds to nurture pressure enough.

I can’t tell you how difficult I found it choosing a University course. I felt guilty for doing something that was for the first time just for me. I was so used to thinking about everyone else first, I was conditioned, and I couldn’t get my head round having such a choice, it seemed so self-indulgent.

I deliberated for months thinking that I should choose a course that would result in a clear pathway to a career – like teaching would. The Hubby said he didn’t mind what I did, I should just enjoy it, but I still couldn’t come to a decision.

In the end it was my mother in law who finally helped me see the light after patiently sitting through another set of my frustrated tears.

“Just do what you truly love Donna”, she said. “This is your chance now. The rest will follow”.

And so I did.

I chose to study my true passion, taking a BA (Hons) in English Language at Sussex University.

I will never forget the day I found out I had been accepted. I think that day helped me to accept a lot of things. Mostly myself.

And my mother-in-law was right. The rest followed.

I’ve so much to tell you about being a mature student, the ups and downs of uni life when you are a parent, how I got to where I am today, and how I’ll be using my experience to help my daughters if and when they go to university.

But for now my message it this; don’t give up on your dreams, no matter how far away they may seem at times. Take it from a 31 year old Fresher, it’s never too late.

Oh, and you might just make a few people proud along the way too:

Sussex university, mature student, graduation image

Donna xx

Ps. Read my 7 Secrets to Surviving University for Mature Students to pick up a few tips and tell me your experiences too.


  1. This gave me goosebumps and made me cry all at the same time! One of the best posts I’ve ever read – totally inspiring, moving and brilliant! Congratulations! You rock! #MBPW X

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Anya, it’s a funny thing looking back on your life and pondering how fate plays it’s hand in everything. Just hoping a bit of a bit of determination rubs off on my girlies as they hit their teens and tweens too! :o) x


  2. suzanne3childrenandit says:

    Wow Donna, this brought a tear to my eye. Amazing. Well done you. What an inspiration you are to your girls, no wonder they are proud 🙂 x


    • Thank you Suzanne, we can only hope to inspire our offspring can’t we and hopefully show them that anything is possible if you work hard enough :o) x


  3. Love this!
    This is exactly what happened to my big Bro. He got a job in a factory straight after school and worked there for years. He got married and had a family and kept working to provide for them. But he had the niggle.
    So he went to night school and got three A s at A level and then trained to be a nurse. He is now the most amazing nurse ever!
    It’s so difficult to change ones path in life ..especially when you have a family.
    I think you’re amazing x


    • Thank you Katy, and WOW, well done to your brother too! Sometimes I look back and don’t know how I did it, I bet your brother does too. I started studying at about 8pm every night once the kids were in bed and went through til the early hours, then got up in the early hours at the weekend to do the rest as well as quite few 24 hour sessions, but not the kind of sessions most of my uni-mates were having unfortunately! It was a bit like having another baby!! It trained me well for late night blogging! x


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