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The Sheffield College

Returning To Learning Life Changing For Adult Learner Alexis

Updated: 21/06/2017

Alexis Calabrese left school with no qualifications and was long term unemployed. But his interest in art and studying at The Sheffield College has helped turn his life and career prospects around.

Returning To Learning Life Changing For Adult Learner Alexis

Pictured: Alexis Calabrese has turned his career prospects around after studying at The Sheffield College.

The 43-year-old, from Rotherham, successfully completed an Access to Higher Education in Art and Design course last year at Hillsborough campus on Livesey Street. He also completed a GCSE equivalent in English as part of his studies.

He then progressed onto a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design course, which he is finishing this summer. Alexis has a conditional place to study a BA Honours Degree in Fine Art at Sheffield Hallam University, starting this September.

Alexis said: “Returning to education has changed my life. College is the only place that I have stuck to other than junior school. I was ready to be determined and needed to go beyond my comfort zone. You’ve got to be willing to do that if you want to learn and grow.”

The achievements of adults learners are being celebrated this week as part of the national Festival of Learning from June 19th to 25th. The festival showcases adults who have transformed their lives through learning. It also highlights the benefits of lifelong learning. Visit https://www.festivaloflearning.org.uk/.

Alexis added: “The thought of going back to studying was very daunting at first. I felt very intimidated. Battling depression and anxiety attacks is the reason I was unemployed and inactive for so long. But I decided that no matter how difficult it felt, I had to face those fears rather than avoid them. I am so glad that I kept going. If it hadn’t been for the College, I would have been in a bad way.

He explained: “I don’t have any positive memories of secondary school and I left without any qualifications. The one thing that I did enjoy was art. I started an art class at High Green in Sheffield and the teacher there suggested I consider studying full-time at the College. I can’t praise the staff enough. They have been absolutely great. If you had told me a few years-ago that I would get to university, I would not have believed you.”

 A talented portrait artist, Alex has grown in self-confidence and is proving his skills as a result of his studies. He creates portraits using watercolours and Pro marker aqua marker pens and enjoys exploring the character of the people whom he is painting.

Alexis has sold some of his work at the College, developing his enterprise skills, and he held an exhibition at the 35 Chapel Walk Gallery in Sheffield city centre earlier this term.

Heather Smith, Principal, The Sheffield College, said: “The success of students such as Alexis confirms everything that the College is about - transforming lives through learning. This is what motivates us to do all we can to provide an inspirational environment that enables students to grow in confidence and develop their skills. I am immensely proud of Alexis’ achievements and the tremendous staff who have taught and supported him. I wish him all the very best for a successful future.”

For more information about access to university courses starting this September, click here. For additional information about 19+ advanced learner loans, click here.