Former fitness instructor who went back to university in her thirties to help others do the same with free course

A fitness instructor turned nutrition lecturer from Lostock Hall returned to university in later life and will now take on a new challenge teaching others like her this summer.

April Melia, 56, embraced education in later life and will use her experience to show others that it is never too late for further studies or a career change.

April will soon have Dr in front of her name as she is due to finish her PhD in nutrition education for cardiac rehabilitation.

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This July, she will teach a free, six-week taster course called the Return to Study Entry Programme at UCLan

Soon to be Dr, April Melia, 56, went back to university in later life and will now teach free taster courses at UCLan to help others do the same.

It is aimed at people aged 21 and over who may not have level 3 qualifications but show an eagerness to start or develop a sports-related career.

“I wish this course had been around when I decided to come to university back in 2003," said April, "At the time I was working as a fitness instructor with two young children, so it was a big step but something I really wanted to do.

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“This one big decision led me to a new career helping people with pre-existing health conditions back into exercise, as well as into lecturing and research.

“I’m really excited about helping others who may be in the same position I was.

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"Not only will participants get a taste of the broad range of sports degrees they could do, they also learn about what it’s like to actually be a student and how to think academically."

April hopes that sharing her expertise and experience during the short taster course will make going back to university seem 'less initmidating' for those who are considering taking the plunge.

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“This is especially important because it breaks down perceived barriers a person may have about what studying at university is like," she said.

The 56-year-old says it’s hard to believe how far she’s come considering she thought going to university could only ever be a dream until she took the plunge nearly 20 years ago.

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Short courses on business and management, justice, medical sciences, the arts and media will also be offered as part of the Return to Study Entry Programmes at UCLan.

Even if students are busy with work, they can tune in to the courses during evening and on Saturday mornings via a mix of online and face-to-face lessons.

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Courses will begin on July 7 and 84% of people enrolled on a recent health and social care Return to Study Entry Programme at the university went on to enrol in full-time courses.

April said: “I hope this course shows people that university is far more accessible than they might think and can open doors to careers they never knew existed.

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"If I can do it, anyone can.”

More information about the free, six-week courses, which are taught at UCLan's Preston and Burnley campuses and online, can be found at this link or by emailing [email protected].