Michelle and Simon Simoncini
A couple from America who dreamed of a life in the UK will both graduate from the University of Worcester this week in the same subject.
Michelle and Simon Simoncini fell in love with the UK during a holiday in 2013 and decided they wanted to make a new life here. So, they sold up their house in Portland, Oregon, and embarked on a new life.
“We both wanted to return to Higher Education and so we looked at several universities,” they said. “We chose Worcester due to its location, size, and reputation.”
Michelle, age 50, had enjoyed working in primary education for nearly 20 years and decided she wanted to further her knowledge through a degree in Education Studies. Simon, age 57, had spent his career working in the automotive industry but, wanting to pursue something more interesting and fulfilling, decided Education Studies was a good option for him too.
The couple said studying together had many advantages.
“For us, the benefits of studying together far outweighed any challenges,” they said. “It allowed for a level of understanding and empathy that couldn’t have been reached otherwise. Not only were we on the same course, but we also took all the same modules. We found out almost immediately that as students we are very different, both in how we studied and the work we produced. Luckily, having earned similar marks throughout the course means no one can claim their study style to be the best.”
They threw themselves enthusiastically into the course and amongst many other achievements, became trained Worcester Cathedral guides as part of their Work Experience module.
But part way through their studies, the Covid-19 pandemic struck. “Some days were more difficult than others,” they said. “We feel fortunate that we were able to get through most of our second year before the first lockdown because by then we’d established solid relationships with our tutors, and we knew how to work independently. We definitely missed the social aspect of in-person lectures and seminars but we’re grateful we had each other.”
On graduating this week, they said: “We feel pretty proud of this accomplishment and we look forward to celebrating it with our university friends and cohorts. It will be nice to see the people who have been such a big part of our lives the past three years. We’re so relieved the ceremony will take place at the Cathedral. We were lucky enough to do our work placement with the education department there, so we feel a bond with that beautiful building. Friends and family in the US will be watching it online and Michelle’s best friend is flying in from Seattle to attend the ceremony. We’re just really excited.”
The pair are both now working as teaching assistants in local schools and are looking at enrolling on to a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) in the future with a view to becoming qualified teachers.