Graduation day came with a simple pledge from Steafan Deery, to end his teaching career with the same passion and enthusiasm that he had on day one.
The dream to channel classroom dynamism was made possible by University of Cumbria (UoC), which has seen the former Irish Football Association PE specialist strike out in his new profession.
Currently working in his native Northern Ireland with BTEC sixth-formers - and lecturing at Ulster University - Steafan paid tribute to UoC’s ‘fantastic tutors’ and the opportunities completing a post graduate certificate in education (PGCE) has brought.
He explained: “I loved every single minute of my time at UoC, even though it was hard with my wife and three young sons back home in Strabane. The youngest was just six-weeks-old when I started.
“Becoming a full-time student again took some thinking about and I couldn’t have done it without the massive support from my family and all the help UoC gave.
“Coming back for graduation, with my wife Ciara at my side, means a huge amount. We’ve been on this journey together. Without her, I wouldn’t have been able to pursue my dream to teach. And when we go home there’ll be another celebration with all the family.”
Relishing university primary school placements, Steafan has gone on to centre his career on higher education.
He said: “I loved the energy and passion from those young pupils, but the challenge of helping older students work towards careers in the sports industry is fantastic.
“UoC was absolutely the right choice and has led me to where I am today. From the start, tutors went above and beyond their roles to make things as easy as possible for me. It’s that connection that turns us into effective teachers.”
Steafan had a masters’ degree in sport and exercise psychology before doing his PGCE. He also had one big ambition – to be a ‘seriously good teacher, because it’s the best profession in the world’.
He went on: “I just want to say a massive thank you to UoC for believing in me and to my mother, Annie, for the huge influence she’s had on my life.”