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Social Worker graduates after 20 years

Frances McCullough will be awarded a First Class Honours Degree (BSc Hons) in Social Work on Thursday 9 December.

It has taken 20 years, but Queen’s graduate Frances McCullough has just come away from Queen’s qualified for her dream career as a social worker. 

Frances grew up in care and knew from a young age that this was the job she wanted to do.  She started her social work course in Queen’s in 2001 but realised pretty quickly that she wasn’t quite ready for it and was disappointed to fail her final placement. 

She went on to work in the voluntary sector for 15 years and had two sons, but the dream of being a social worker never really went away. So, Frances, bit the bullet, and headed back to Queen’s.  This time she had student support which helped her learn how to structure assignments and reference properly.   

“I loved the experience of going back to something that I felt I was born to do.  This time everything made sense and my lived experience of the world of work helped me on my journey. 

I also had support from Queens as I was a student who grew up in care and had wonderful support from my tutor, Dr Joe Duffy.”   

In her final year, life became challenging for Frances, navigating out of a difficult relationship from her husband.  Adjusting to the changes in her finances, looking after her two young sons - one with Asperger’s and one with hearing difficulties – and caring for her elderly mother really added a strain to her life.  However, she did not give up her dream and is now about to pick up a first from Queen’s. 

“Queens staff were so supportive and encouraged me to keep going to achieve my dreams. I can't thank them enough – it’s only taken me 20 years but I have managed to get there and even come out qualified with a first! I am now working full time as a Social Worker with Looked After Children and I feel like I have come full circle.”   




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