Outstanding Individual Learner

Danielle Haigh-Wood

2018 Highly Commended

A full-time carer for her grandfather, having already cared for her terminally ill grandmother in her teens, Danielle put her education to one side. However, still in her 20s she defied her critics and achieved a Degree from the Open University.

Danielle is shy and lacks self-confidence; she is also an anxiety-sufferer. She always wanted to attend university but put her family before her education and stayed home to look after her grandparents.

She was often told that she could not achieve her dream of attending university while being a carer. This gave her the determination to prove herself, and, at the age of 19 she signed up to an online short course via the Open University.

Danielle went on to achieve qualifications in legal studies, higher education and a BA in Humanities with philosophy and history. Still a carer, she is now studying for her MA in History.

Studying online gave Danielle the flexibility to stay at home and learn when it was convenient to her and her family, even if this meant working through the night.

Her nominator, Debbie Wood, said “Even though her time is limited, Danielle ensures that she gets an education. She inspires everyone around her and shows that anything can be possible.”

Danielle said “I know it is wonderful to have qualifications, but education is more than that – it has given me a voice that I thought I did not have and a future I never thought possible. My dream of becoming a teacher is no longer a fantasy.”

David Knight, Director Access, Careers and Teaching Support at The Open University said,  “The OU has hundreds of students who, like Danielle, make sacrifices to study and who overcome great odds to achieve their goals. We are proud of our open entry approach, which provides the opportunity for all to do a degree through supported distance learning that is flexible enough to fit in with their busy lives. I hope Danielle’s story encourages others to take the plunge into life-long learning to help transform their own lives and those of their friends, family and community around them”