The accidental student

Regina's Book

My name is Regina Nurney and I was born and raised in a Lancashire town called Rochdale in the North of England. A single mother, I raised my two children in England until they were in their first years of high school and then we moved (escaped) to Scotland in 2009.

The English and Scottish education systems are very different and have their own languages and methods.  Even though my two healthy happy teenagers had completed high school and moved on to college by 2017, my confusion with the Scottish system had still not been resolved.  This lead on to the most unlikely course of events in my life.

After a late start in the application process, I missed out on a place on the NC Art and Design course at Forth Valley College in 2015 but I was on a list to be notified when applications opened for 2016 enrolment. So late one evening, blurry eyed, I quickly responded to the email telling me the world of Forth Valley College was open.

I tapped, I clicked and I was sure I had done everything right and in a flash my application was in. I was going to finally study art after being told at school that art was a hobby.  However, this was now going to be my new career.

Then I was invited to attend an interview.

Sick with nerves, arms aching with portfolios and boxes of crafts, I shuffled in through the iconic main doors of the Falkirk Campus and up to the reception desk where I was directed to the hall.

Now maybe if I hadn’t introduced myself before a word was spoken, someone may had told me what I was interviewing for.  However, even if they had, nerves and panic had engaged “auto pilot”. The push on and get out instinct had kicked in and I was so determined to survive that the whole event happened too fast.

The interview was the most unusual but enjoyable I have ever had. With an activity to design an app and a group presentation, the whole event had a feeling of a corporate day out and not an interview at all.

The whole day had taken me by surprise and I still hadn’t realised something wasn’t quite right. To be honest as there were 30 applicants and only 16 places on the course, I felt I didn’t have a chance.

Time marched on and with the whole experience pushed to the back of my mind, life carried on.

Then once again in the wee small hours the ting of the email notification woke a blurry eyed mum from her sleep.

I had somehow managed to secure a place on the Creative Industries course at the Falkirk Campus of Forth Valley College. “Whoop whoop”, “yippee” and fist pump in the air to me. Still, naïve little me hadn’t noticed something wasn’t right.

June came along and I was invited to a welcome meeting to meet my fellow students. With jangling nerves, I once again entered a room of strangers and took a seat.

The two curriculum managers introduced themselves and then proceeded to separate the two courses.


I was placed into the group of creative industries students and there, on the other side of the room, were the art and design students. The very group I thought I had applied for. The very group I thought creative industries was a fancy name for. I was not on the right course.

Many words that sounded like ‘duck’ and ‘pit’ ran through my head while I scrambled for my phone and prayed I had data left. I had signed up for a course and had no idea what it was.

Google became my best friend and while trying not to look like a mad person, I tapped like I have never tapped before. Praying my data allowance held out with one side of my brain, while the other side tried to take in the information I was being given. Slowly the screen revealed the web page about the mysterious creative industries course. Finally, the page loaded and real panic set in.

Sound production, animation and sound design!!!!!!

Many more times the words sounding like ‘duck’ screamed in my head – what had I done?

With my summer task sheet in my hand I left in a daze, shell shocked, and I will admit heartbroken. I wasn’t going to be an art student after all – well not for another year at least. I re-read the web page again and was given hope by the fact that art was still part of the course and graphic art also.

With a few short weeks left until the course began, I completed my bursary application, arranged child care and set to my summer task.

Typical me, I finished my piece with a paper cut and it happened to be the last crafts I did that summer.

With one week to go before classes began, I broke my wrist. My right wrist and yes, I was very right handed. Panic set in more than ever – how could I draw without my right arm?

With little hope of success, I packed my bag and entered the class room on 23 August 2016.  My new life had begun.

The Creative Industries course may not have been what I wanted to study but it has proven to be what I needed. I can honestly say I have used everything I’ve learnt over the past year.

I have illustrated and written a children’s book “The Ladybird Who Found Her Spots” with the help of both the art and design and graphic art modules; used sound and video production skills to make promotional videos for my kickstarter campaign to fund the publishing of my book; and thanks to knowledge gained in media studies, I was saved from losing a lot of money and rights over my book.

The course was challenging and overall the year was hard work, but I am glad I stuck it out until the end.

This was a very good and happy accident.

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