Bernadette Syme is 41 years old and from Tullibody, Clackmannanshire, near Stirling. She successfully completed an HND at college which helped her gain the qualification to move directly into year 2 of the Hospitality and Tourism Management degree at QMU. She has a brain injury and struggles with aspects of her learning, but with determination, drive and help from QMU’s support services, Bernadette is progressing well with her degree studies. Through QMU, she has also secured the prestigious Apex Hotel Shooting Stars Scholarship, which is giving her hands on experience of every aspect of the hotel’s business.

 

Bernadette tells us more about her student journey

Why did you choose QMU and this particular degree course? 

QMU has smaller lecture and seminar class sizes similar to college. I therefore felt that if I was struggling I could easily approach the lecturer for help, rather than being one of thousands of students, as is sometimes in the case in other larger universities. I felt I wouldn’t get lost in the crowd at a smaller university, and also my college lecturer highly recommended QMU as a place to study hospitality and tourism.

 

What did you do before coming to QMU? Were you at college?

I attended Forth Valley College where I studied HND in Professional Cookery

 

Did you face any particular challenges in your educational journey before coming to QMU?

With an Acquired Brain Injury, every day can be a challenge, but Disabled Students Allowance helped me pay for aids to enable me to achieve my potential.

 

How did you feel about coming to QMU?

I was excited as I never thought that I would ever be able to achieve a degree and I was finally getting the opportunity to do so.

 

How did you settle into university life? What support networks/initiatives were in place to help you get to grips with university level education and general student life?

I struggled at first but spoke to my Personal Academic Tutor who helped guide me in the right direction.

 

What were the most useful/helpful services that you used at QMU?

QMU’s Effective Learning Service is brilliant. You can drop in during University hours and get one-to-one tailored support from a tutor with any aspect of your learning that you may be struggling with. The Disability Services team at QMU helped me to get things like ‘sonocent’ and ‘read and write’ which have really aided in my educational development. The Peer Assisted Learning sessions (PALS) are great and help if you are struggling to get your head around a specific subject. The great thing about PALS is that sessions are led by other people who have had similar educational pathways to you, so they have a good idea what the issues are and what information/support will be helpful to you.

 

Where did you live whilst studying?

As a mature student I lived at home with my family.

 

Life in Edinburgh – what was the best experience you had in Edinburgh? Are there any hidden ‘gems’ you’d like to share?

A visit to the Camera Obscura, on the Royal Mile, is a must.

 

The Course

What was the most interesting part of the course?

Overall, I have found the course really interesting, but I really enjoyed finding out about the Sustainable Development of the Hospitality Industry.

 

What were the course challenges and what do you consider to be your successes?

For me the challenges were more about how different the academic work required was compared to college. My grades were pretty low to start with, but by putting the effort in, I would say my first A was definitely a success.

 

Can you share what opportunities you had to develop practical skills relating to your course eg placements/internships/work experience?

In level two, I completed a six month Human Resource placement with a small boutique wedding and events hotel near Stirling called The Dunmar House so I was able to use what I had learned at QMU and put it into practice.

 

Did you benefit from any type of scholarship/awards/additional learning opportunities?

Currently, I am completing a scholarship with Apex Hotel where I get to experience every department with the hotel. It lets me see exactly how all of the different departments operate individually and how they work together and contribute to the overall business operation.

 

Any advice for students who might be interested in this course?

From what I have learned so far at QMU I can safely say that the things you are taught, as part of the course, are useful tools in developing your career.

 

Did you undertake any paid/voluntary work?

I became a Direct Entrant Facilitator, which is a really rewarding experience. As I have personal experience of being a direct entry student I am able to understand and answer questions that direct entrant student have. I also became a PALs leader, which is like having a group study session helping others to gain a better understanding of the subject.

 

After Graduation

What would you like to do after you graduate from QMU?

I’d like to go into a training and development position.

Are you currently working?

I am currently working with Apex Hotels, as part of the QMU/Apex Hotels Scholarship which was set up by the University.

Would you consider further study in the future?

Yes

"The Peer Assisted Learning sessions (PALS) are great and help if you are struggling to get your head around a specific subject. The great thing about PALS is that sessions are led by other people who have had similar educational pathways to you, so they have a good idea what the issues are and what information/support will be helpful to you."
Bernadette Syme

'Step Into QMU' with the BA (Hons) International Hospitality and Tourism Management

https://www.qmu.ac.uk/study-here/undergraduate-study/2019-undergraduate-courses-folder/baba-hons-international-hospitality-and-tourism-management/