Darren Meade

Darren Meade

MSc Project Management

Why did you choose to study Project Management?

About 4 years ago, I did a HND course in business and accounts. Once I had finished, I was prompted by my lecturers to go and do a degree.

I have been working part-time in schools teaching martial arts, but I would like to start up my own academy. I felt like the project management course would give me the right knowledge and go hand-in-hand with my future goals.

How did it feel returning to education?

At first I found it quite scary and I knew I was going to be faced with some challenges as I am partially sighted. Now looking back, I am really glad I did this.

What made you decide to do a Masters degree?

When I finished school, I never went to university because I didn’t know there were certain things available for people who had my sort of disabilities – it just wasn’t made known to me.

In school I felt cheated because I did my O-Levels, but I knew I could have gone further. I used to be top of my Maths class, but average in English. This was because my eyes have never worked together so I got bad headaches if I read for a particular length of time.

My older brother went to university and I wanted to go to, but I didn’t. When I was 30, I contemplated going, but then fear kicked in as soon as reading was mentioned because I knew I would struggle with my disability.

When I went back to college, that’s when I found out about the disability facilities and that’s when I decided to go onto study project management at university. My past has contributed to this course as I used to be a chef for many years and I used to run a lot of weddings and other events. Back then I never saw those events as projects, but actually when I look back now, they really were.

I am now 51 years’ old and I can honestly say that doing a Masters has been a great decision. I think I needed to do this as university was the next step, and for me, it was about finishing that particular chapter in my life.

How have you found being on the programme?

I have found it exciting, refreshing, and long overdue. It’s a different world really as it’s enjoyable. It has also been beneficial to what I’m doing now with the martial arts academy. It’s just been one of those things where I wish I had done it years ago.

Would you say the programme has given you the knowledge and skills you need for your future plans? 

The programme has not only given me knowledge and skills, but also the confidence I need to pursue my future plans. Now I am just looking towards the next chapter in my life.

What have you enjoyed the most about the programme?

I have just found the programme gratifying. There have been times where I’ve been doing the work and I’ve felt like I cannot physically or mentally do anymore than what I’ve already done. That’s when I start thinking to myself that I would be happy if I got a merit – but I never, I got all distinctions!

Other than that, I think what has made this programme so enjoyable is the friends I have made. I have met people from all walks of life and that has been really good for me because I didn’t think I would make friends. With all the different backgrounds and cultures together, it’s been really nice. My group of friends and I have even all sworn that we will keep in touch with one another regardless of what we’re doing after this course.

The friendship throughout the programme has included the lecturers as well, especially with Jim – he’s funny. It’s nice to have a laugh with him and all the other lecturers.

It has just been a really good experience.

What would you recommend to someone who is looking to return to education?

Sign up. Don’t waste no more time.

From my own personal experience, you waste more time worrying about what you can do rather than putting that energy into just doing it. The fear factor is like a mental block, but don’t give in to it. Just go and do it. If it’s not for you, you can always walk away, but I wouldn’t advise that because even though it does get stressful and there are times when you are looking into the mirror and asking yourself why you’re putting yourself through this, keep going, the road is not as long as you first thought.

Life does get in the way and there are other things you need to attend to. For example, I have got two children so I need to make sure they’re looked after, but I’ve spoken with my children and they understand what I am doing and they’re very supportive of that. Also, where I worked in schools, I’ve had to cut down the amount of time I work in them and now I’m working in just two schools instead of five.

I have had to make those sacrifices, but one year or even two years isn’t a long time at all. So, I would strongly advise anyone who is around my age to just go and do it why you can because in a blink of an eye the programme will have come to an end.

It comes down to tackling your fears and the only person who is going to stop you is YOU. I teach the children in my martial arts lessons that anything that is humanely possible is possible. If you want something, go and get it. The more I started to listen to myself, the more it started to make sense. I always gave this good advice, but I just needed to take it as well, and now that I have, I am so glad I did this course.

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“I chose Northumbria because the AACSB double accreditation for the Business School was attractive to me. The ability to develop my language skills was another element which I liked, I wanted to improve my English and work with a diverse group of people. I most enjoy being in an environment which is so diverse as it gives you more vocational skills. Participating in group work has encouraged me to adapt my learning style and ability to work with a wider range of people.  The teachers here are very open and encourage us to keep in touch with them regarding our work.”

Anabel Castillo

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