Open University graduate receives prestigious social work award
An Open University student has gained recognition as the highest-performing social work graduate.
Victoria Cumming was among 664 students to have their degrees conferred at a special ceremony in Edinburgh.
The 35 year-old from Sandwick received her BA with honours in social work at the event, held in the city’s Usher Hall.
Ms Cumming has been praised for her dedication and commitment after she travelled down to Glasgow from the isles for tutorials in order to gain her qualification.
She has now been named the Scotland recipient of the Andrew Cornwall Award for the highest-performing graduate in the social work programme.
Ms Cumming said: “With the Open University, you start while you are working, you don’t need to change your life. Anybody can do it.
“We are just about as far north as you can go in Scotland but you can study with the Open University anywhere. I also had a tutor who came up to Shetland twice for my placement meetings. They were good at making sure that happened rather than doing it all by video link.
“I was working to fund myself through it, so I would do 30 hours a week in placement, then another 15-20 hours work on top of that. It was quite busy but still possible and doable.
“It was a nice surprise when I got the email about the Andrew Cornwall Award. I think it just worked really well for me, the balance of working and studying.
“I just think it is such a good thing really, that anyone can do a degree and it can massively change your life. I would recommend it to anybody.”
Ms Cumming previously lived in Glasgow with her partner until she applied for a job as a social care trainee in the isles and started working with people with dementia.
Now a qualified social worker, she is enjoying a new role in the family placement team with Shetland Islands Council.
Director of the Open University in Scotland, Susan Stewart, said Ms Cumming had done extremely well.
“Our students come from all kinds of backgrounds and from all over Scotland and they study for lots of different reasons, but what they all have in common is a fierce desire to fit learning into their busy lives.
“Victoria is a fantastic example of that commitment and dedication and I’m extremely proud of her and everyone else that graduated with the Open University in Scotland.”