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Student Stories: Nina Vallard

"I am student in my 40s currently living in Kent. I have worked in office administration for half my life now. I grew up in Dorset and lived in Brighton during my 30s. I fell into office administration after leaving college and just stayed there. I have always been crafty; making zines and art books but only started taking my creative work seriously during lockdown. Like many people, I lost loved ones during this time and it made me reflect on what makes me happy."


What is your previous educational experiences and what drew you to OCA?

I had a love-hate relationship with school growing up. I loved learning, but I've always liked doing things on my own terms. I resented having to do things that I did not care for. I was not enthusiastic unless the subject inspired me, which it seldom did. I was a bit of a pessimist during my childhood. I thought I would just follow my family footsteps of low-paid jobs until retirement and it hadn't occurred to me to challenge (or change) my attitude.

Can you describe your OCA journey?

I started the Psychogeography short course in 2021 and I took to it immediately. I just enjoyed going out for walks (dérive) and they kick-started creative ideas. I journalled a lot and made more zines in two months than I had in my entire life at that point. But the main thing the course ignited was my love of research and elearning. I started working in a library after finishing the course, but sadly my father passed away so I took a few months off to grieve.

What was the Tutor and/or Peer Support like on your course?

I returned to study in early 2022. I enrolled on the Photography as Language short course. Although I didn't particularly consider myself to have a talent for taking photographs, I am very interested in the ways people document their lives. And this felt like something I'd like to explore as I was experiencing lots of change in my life. Similar to my time on the Psychogeography course, my study at OCA inspired me to be more active in my day-to-day life and gave me a place where I could express myself.

What does studying with OCA mean to you?

The "Open" in Open College of the Arts is the key for me. During my time studying here, I wanted to open myself to new ideas and opportunities. I was not confident in my artistic skills, so I challenged myself to do something that made me uncomfortable. I enrolled on the short courses with the goal to just see what happened. What happened was that I realised I want to express myself creatively, and pursue a career in libraries.

What's next?

I am studying a librarianship qualification now, and when I graduate I'd like to help support students using digital technology for research purposes. I returned to working in a library earlier this year, and my experience in OCA has helped me understand how to use online databases.

I'd also like to thank the TEL team I applied for a job with them last year. Although unsuccessful I had the best time in my interview talking about Minecraft Education Edition! And the feedback gave me confidence that working in e-learning is something I'd be good at.

Any advice?

You can find answers to everything in the Introductions courses - bookmark this page 


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