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Lifelong learning champion leading by example

Rebecca Shaw

Meet the Swansea Bay learning enthusiast who certainly leads by example.

Rebecca Shaw (pictured) is the epitome of a lifelong learner having successfully completed her Level 5 Diploma in People Management, whilst having two children, in the midst of the pandemic.

She was also praised by her lecturers for being a positive influence and motivator for all of those on her cohort studying for the HR qualification that is the equivalent to an undergraduate degree.

Such is her love of learning Rebecca, digital adoption manager, was shortlisted in the Learner of the Year category of the health board’s Living Our Values awards.

Things, however, looked different for her when she left school aged 16 after her GCSEs.

She said: “I didn’t like college. I tried it and didn’t like it. I had struggled with maths a lot when I was in school, so I was always nervous of learning.”

Rebecca did not have to wait around long before finding her calling, however, and soon joined the NHS as a qualified dental nurse.

Not only did she land herself a career in health care she caught the learning bug having been encouraged to do a postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE) to aid her job as a dental educator.

She said: “I didn’t go to university the conventional way. It was when I worked in one of my roles in dental. I had done my PGCE, because there was an element of teaching in the role. I had never set foot in a university environment before, but I really got on with the lecturer. My tutor really encouraged me. They said, ‘After this course you will have so many credits towards a degree’.

“I found myself working part time for an education degree, which I passed with a 2:1. I have kept learning from there.

“I just started doing different qualifications. Every time I completed one, I was looking for the next. 

“My most recent qualification is the level 5 diploma, which I completed a few months ago.” 

Incredibly Rebecca juggled having two children, son Tommy, aged three, and Rosie, aged two, around her studies.

She said: “I did my work heavily pregnant and then I was off to have the baby. I had two weeks off then I was back on lectures.

“Tommy arrived during the pandemic, July 2020, and I stared another course just after that. Then I was pregnant with Rosie when I commenced the next, so I knew I had to get it done in about 18 months. I knew that with a new-born and toddler, it would be very busy. 

“My husband, Daniel, was a great support. He shared the parental leave, because we’re both Swansea Bay staff, so I could concentrate on work and studies.”

Now Rebecca is keen to encourage others in Swansea Bay to follow her lead.

She said: “I enjoy being positive and motivating others. 

“I’m currently completing my coaching and mentoring qualification to help and support others. I really like that, helping people learn to believe in themselves and know what their potential is 

“I think you can constantly learn and improve yourself in line with the organisational values – always improving.

“It’s a personal preference for everybody. But I always think that it’s good to take yourself out of your comfort zone. And it’s good to learn something new. Even if you think you may not enjoy the subject, you can always take something from it and learn.” 

Swansea Bay’s lead organisational development facilitator Natalie Mills nominate Rebecca for the LOV award: “Rebecca was a model student and exemplified the health board values throughout our teachings,” Natalie said. 

“She motivated, supported and guided many of those within her cohort and became an exemplar of best practice and a font of HR knowledge. 

“Rebecca undertook this qualification after she had just returned from maternity leave and actually had another baby during it! She was submitting assignments right up until her labour and then started more units after she left the labour wing.

“She is a champion for lifelong learning and inspires all of those around her to develop themselves and be constantly curious about what we can learn.”

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