“It’s not something everyone does with their mum!” – Family Reflects on Graduation with Exeter College

As part of Exeter College celebrating 50 years as the UK’s first ever tertiary college, we’re talking to some of the inspirational students, staff and alumni who have helped make us the Ofsted Outstanding education provider we are today.

In celebration of our 50th year as a tertiary college, we caught up with an inspirational pair of 2019 university level graduates, Mother Stephanie and Son Ethan, to hear their story.

A higher education graduation is a momentous moment in any person’s life. It’s the culmination of years of hard work, and the official awarding of degree level qualifications can transform a career.

But, for Devon-based mum Stephanie Lewis the day was especially moving, as she watched her son collect his degree, before following him on stage to be awarded her own degree-level qualification.

“I absolutely cherished going through graduation with him,” said 52-year-old Stephanie from Dunsford.

“It made me quite tearful. To be sat in the crowd with my group and watch him graduate and then walk up there and do it myself as his mum can’t happen very often, and I’m so pleased we got to celebrate together.”

Despite graduating together, Stephanie and Ethan, her son, studied very different higher education subjects at TEF Gold-rated Exeter College. Stephanie studied for a Foundation Degree in Health and Social Care while Ethan completed a BA (Ord) degree in Business Management. He has since gone on to top-up his degree with the University of Exeter for a year and earn a BA (Hons) degree in Business.

Ethan said, “Having my mum graduate with me definitely made the experience more unique, and now I have a story that not many others will!”

“The emphasis on support at Exeter College helps you get the most out of your studies, and that was definitely the case for me,”

Ethan Lewis, BA (Ord) Business Management Graduate.

Ethan, 22, initially joined Exeter College in 2014 to study for his A Levels in History, Chemistry, Geography and Environmental studies. He decided to continue his education journey right at home with our Higher National Certificate in Business, then the Higher National Diploma, followed by a Bachelor of Arts in Business Management. His graduation represented the culmination of five years of studying with the College, and he was delighted with how he was supported during his higher education studies.

“The biggest positive for me was the small class sizes at Exeter College compared to how they can be at other places,” said Ethan.

“The support enabled me to focus on making sure that I understood each bit of content completely before moving on to the next thing. I had a lot more one-on-one time with my tutor than I think you’d expect doing a degree at a different place.

“The emphasis on support at Exeter College helps you get the most out of your studies, and that was definitely the case for me.”

While Ethan’s degree level studies with Exeter College followed a somewhat typical route of study for many young people, his mother took the step of returning to education to help her with her voluntary role working with the Citizens Advice Bureau.

Stephanie said, “While doing my voluntary role, I realised that I wanted to get some qualifications for me personally.

“I never got my GCSE Maths the first time around, so I wanted to get that under my belt and also study for a degree. The Health and Social Care course seemed to suit me most. I studied for that and my Maths at the same time.

“Everyone at the College was so supportive, and the small class sizes definitely made a difference. I started a little daunted by being the oldest in the class, but I have to say that the support I received from lecturers was second-to-none.”

Stephanie’s time with Exeter College was a roaring success. She picked up her long-awaited GCSE Maths qualification and came out of her Foundation Degree with an impressive Merit grade.

“I had a bit of a tricky time in my personal life during my studies, but I managed to come out of it with some amazing grades and that is definitely, in part, down to the supportive environment at the College.”

Ethan earned a 2:1 in his degree with Exeter College and plans to complete his top-up year with the University of Exeter before going on to study a Master’s in Business.

Ethan said, “After I’m done studying, I think I want to start up my own business or perhaps go into quantity surveying. Thanks to my studies, I’ve theoretically started hundreds of businesses, but I haven’t taken that leap in the real world just yet. I’ll have to see what I think when I finish my studies.”

At Exeter College, we work with a range of renowned partners to deliver university level courses in a variety of subject areas. With a commitment to smaller class sizes and accessibility to lecturers, the College provides learners with a way to study for a degree differently and supercharge a career or develop transferable skills for the workplace.

Our courses range in level, with full and part time study options available. Financial aid is also a possibility for eligible students, whether in the form of a bursary or a loan.

Find the right course for your future by requesting our University Level Prospectus today.

Contact our dedicated Adult Advisers if you’re interested in studying as an adult with Exeter College. Email adultadvice@exe-coll.ac.uk to talk through your options.

Exeter College is celebrating 50 years since being named as the UK’s first tertiary college. Although our roots date back to the 1800s, our status as a tertiary college marked a revolution in further education and 2020 marks our 50 years of excellence since that landmark. If you have a memory of Exeter College through the years that you’d like to share, contact marketing@exe-coll.ac.uk or get involved on social media using #ExeColl50.