ALumna OF THE MONTH -  November 2020

Zena Paterson, Diagnostic Imaging- Diploma of Higher Education, 2020

Zena P


Meet Zena, a mature class of 2020 graduate who was inspired by her own family to attend University.

“I decided to study at LSBU because it offered the course I wanted to do alongside my job in the NHS as a radiology assistant. I loved the idea of studying in central London and LSBU is so accessible from waterloo, in fact it’s walking distance.

All the lecturers were great but in particular Pete Keane, who alleviated my fears of studying radiation physics, with extra lessons and support from lecturers Jerry Hughes and Shabir Khan I achieved 82% in my first year radiation sciences exam!

I was in-service whilst I studied, which meant I was employed by the NHS and my managers had to agree to release me for study. So, when the full time students were on holiday, I was working in a busy radiology department and having to study and write essays in the evenings. I’m also a mum but my children are 24 and 14 years old, they actually helped me with things such as technology issues. Living outside of London, I had to get up very early to get to 9am lectures on time and make sure family were organised for the working week as well.

I was lucky in that I was already in NHS employment, in fact my department have supported me to undertake further study to complete the BSc (Hons) in Diagnostic radiography, which I started in September 2020. The DipHe qualified me to be an Assistant Practitioner in Radiography, on completion of the final year I will be a registered radiographer. Something I never dreamed was possible, but with the support of my LSBU lecturers and my managers, my dream is becoming a reality. I have no regrets and am so glad I embarked on this journey.

To me career satisfaction, is working hard to achieve goals and reaping the benefits. For me this is working in a great NHS hospital and constantly expanding my knowledge, surrounded by people always willing to teach their knowledge to you. I am constantly motivated by seeing what others have achieved and the opportunities that are available to me. In radiology there are so many avenues that you can choose to go down, safe in the knowledge that you will receive ongoing training and support.

My family are a constant source of support and encouragement to me. My husband and eldest daughter have both been to University and heavily influenced me to go to University as a mature student in my 40s. My best friend became an ambulance technician as a second career, and this also influenced my decision to retrain. I had been a hairdresser for 25 years and many people tried to discourage me from going to university and convinced me I wouldn’t be able to do it, that the gap was too wide. At times I doubted my own ability but decided to do it anyway. My manager was instrumental in supporting me, she always saw a way around any issues when I couldn’t see a way through. Her support and encouragement were unwavering, and she never accepted ‘no’ for an answer. The best piece of advice I received from my manager was to ‘put my head above the parapet to get noticed’, and it worked for me.

The last few months of my course and clinical placement were interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, I was required to shield and was seriously worried about how this would impact on me and finishing the course. It was extremely stressful after all the hard work I had put in, but thanks to the wonders of technology, exams took place online and I was able to complete the course. Sadly, we had no graduation ceremony, which was very upsetting and left me feeling that there was no closure to the end of the course. But I graduated with a Diploma of higher education with Merit in Diagnostic Imaging.

I am proud to be an LSBU alumna and a current student. I would not hesitate to come back to LSBU for postgraduate study, as I know the courses and quality of teaching are fantastic.

My biggest fears are not being good enough and not achieving enough, but when I really think about it, compared to what and whom? We are all following our own individual pathways through life and can’t be compare to each other. Just do YOUR best.

My advice to potential and current LSBU students would be, don’t give up, even when you think you can’t do something, or you have reached your limits. There will always be someone to shine a guiding light for you and whether you believe you can or whether you believe you can’t, YOU ARE RIGHT! And to the class of 2020, we made it! Not many (in fact any) can say they graduated during a global pandemic, that makes us unique and a little bit special!"

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