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Better late than never for busy East Lancs woman who battled for degree
EIGHTEEN years after starting her degree as a mature student, Michelle Baron is finally celebrating her graduation.
Back in 1994 Michelle Baron began studying for a combined honours degree in social studies with English at University College Scarborough.
Like many students, she would come home — to Rossendale — for a supermarket holiday job to help make ends meet.
It was there that she met her husband Dane and, in a decision which ‘was right at the time’, she left university after two years to come home permanently, and the pair married in 1997.
Children followed soon after, with daughter Lewanna, now 13, and son Ethan, 12, and thoughts of career or studies were put to one side.
Michelle didn’t look into finding employment again until Ethan went to school, by which time she was ‘desperate’ to work and started to look for vacancies in schools, having completed a childcare course.
“I had applied to be a teaching assistant but, while I had the qualifications, I didn’t have the experience,” she said. “Then a friend said there was a dinner lady vacancy at All Saints RC High School, Rawtenstall, and I took it as a route into schools.”
With the demands of looking after two children and a part-time job, Michelle decided she could complete her degree by studying with the Open University.
She moved on to Alder Grange High School at the start of 2009 to work as a support assistant and a year later Reuben, now two-and-a-half, joined the family.
A fourth addition to the family, Caleb who turns one this week, still didn’t deter Michelle from achieving her goal.
“It’s still sinking in that I have now, after all this time, got a 2.1 BA degree,” she said.
“When I finished the course last October it was such a relief as Caleb was a few weeks old by then. I had done the bulk of the work while I was pregnant but then he came along and Reuben needed entertaining too — so it was a relief to have got through it.”
Looking after three children while expecting a fourth, on top of work, is a big challenge for any woman, and Michelle, 39, from Rawtenstall, says her studies were an escape which kept her sane.
“I have always enjoyed learning and studying, so I really enjoyed it and that it what gave me the motivation to carry on,” she said.
“Lewanna used to say I need to get a life because I’m always writing essays and I should get out and party more.”
Michelle credits her husband with helping to keep everything running smoothly: “Dane has been amazing,” she said. “He has been a great support and spent lots of time as a house-husband, doing the shopping and transporting children here and there. It has veen a huge juggling act for all of us, but we did it and I’m so proud of us all.”
Michelle’s dream now is to become an English teacher.