Graduation 2017 Case Study: Sarah Horsburgh

Sarah Horsburgh is 31 and lives in East Lothian. She studied HND Fitness, Health and Exercise and has now progressed on to a Physical Activity, Health and Wellbeing degree at Queen Margaret University. Sarah won the Principal’s Award for Academic Excellence in Health, Wellbeing and Social Science for her commitment to her work, while raising her three young daughters.

What made you choose Edinburgh College for your studies?
I decided to go back to college in 2013. I wanted to study fitness, and the course at Edinburgh College suited exactly what I wanted to do. I initially studied the Level 2 Gym Instructors course at the Granton campus. I then went on to study the HND Fitness, Health and Exercise at the Milton Rd Campus 2015-2017.

What were you doing before starting at the college?
I’m a single parent, and before coming back to college I was working part time in a leisure facility, as well as raising my two small children. During the course of my initial period of study at Granton I became pregnant with my third child, who was born very prematurely in the middle of the course.
What has been the best thing about studying at Edinburgh College? Any highlights?
When I started at college I had a very clear (or so I thought) idea about where my future was going. After each unit, and year, my path varied and I have gone in a very different direction to what I had initially intended. I am quite certain I wouldn’t have gotten here without Edinburgh College. My HNC was a highlight as it gave me an insight into my future, and helped me meet some life-long friends. Two A’s in both my Graded Units helped too.
Did you face any challenges before starting or during your studies? How did you overcome them?  Having a baby 14 weeks early during my first year back in education was a challenge. I used to go to the neonatal unit to visit her, then drive to Granton to sit in anatomy classes, then go back to the hospital again. I sat all my practical’s after she was born, while she was still in the hospital and then had to take her with me to sit my exercise to music exam which was on the very last day of term.

Raising three girls is hard regardless, but doing it whilst juggling work and full time education makes everything a little bit harder. I have a very good support system, and just kept reminding myself that the end goal was worth the hard days and the lack of sleep in the meantime. I am a very firm ‘glass half full’ believer and think that if you work hard and keep positive then good things will happen.
If you could give one piece of advice to a student starting at the college now what would it be? Work hard, and go to classes. Some of them might be dull, in fact some of them will be dull, but if you hand all your work in on time and you turn up to class, you’ll be fine.
What are your plans for the future? Are you going on to further study or into employment? What is your end goal?
I’ve just started as 3rd year at Queen Margaret University studying Physical Activity, Health and Wellbeing. Engaging the community in Physical Activity is where I want to be and this course is perfect for me.

I’ve also just launched my own Community Interest Company which looks at delivering obstacle course races to families, as well as providing fun, team days to local nurseries, schools and businesses.

My passions is to get people active and working together in a less typical way, with a focus on team work as opposed to individual competition. We have just partnered with the charity Bloodwise and are hosting their 1.5km family Reindeer Run in Holyrood Park on 3 December 2017. We also hosted two sell out obstacle course races this year in East Lothian and hope to build on that in 2018.


Do you have any messages for the lecturers
Thanks for accepting that sometimes kids puke all night and we don’t always fire on full cylinders. Thanks for always being willing to answer the millions of questions and to accept that yes, I will freak out before having to deliver a session, but that more often than not I would be fine. Thanks for helping guide me to where I am today.

Looking back, if you could do one thing differently what would it be and why?
I would have more confidence in myself. I would accept that everyone gets nervous doing presentations at first, and that no one is perfect all the time. I’d cut myself some more slack. And I’d start my Graded Unit way earlier! Before Christmas in my HNC year I passed an anatomy exam with no remediation. That flipped a switch in me that I didn’t want to do any oral or written resits again, and I worked hard. I studied hard so that I passed everything first time. I wish I had done that from day one. Passing with a 100% pass rate is a big deal at college but when you do it the sense of achievement is amazing.

What are you most proud of that you have achieved while studying at Edinburgh College?
This year I was awarded the Principals Award for academic excellence. That completely blew me away. I don’t consider myself to be a better student than anyone else. I just turned up, worked hard, always handed my work in on time and that was it. I am proud that I passed and that I can say to my children that with some hard work and some self-belief they too can achieve whatever they want.
What made you succeed at Edinburgh College?
A lot of things. Good childcare providers! A very patient mum who would let me sit in the library until 5pm so I could pass without having remediation. My lecturers were very good, and delivered my course in a way that just worked. I had a very good set of other students around me, and we all supported each other and worked hard together. I was very lucky, and I’m very thankful for the opportunities that being an Edinburgh College student has given me.