How I combined working in the NHS with studying

Lydia Mujuru, a Healthcare Management student with Arden University, shares her story of working in the NHS, returning to studying, and how an Arden degree has helped her, in her own words. 

Ever since I came to the UK, I knew that I wanted to be a manager. Despite these dreams, friends, family, and colleagues all told me that, as a black person, securing an office management job in the NHS would be almost impossible. Those doubts, however, did not put me off. I joined the NHS as a receptionist and started studying in my spare time. 

Although I had worked in more senior admin positions for most of my working life, I have a passion for helping other people and want to make a difference. As a result, I felt it was incredibly important to study a degree that reflected these passions and my ambitions.

Getting back to studying at my age was frightening. I am a single mother, and a foreigner, and didn’t know how I was going to cope with work, studying, and being there for my children at the same time. That scared me. I did not think at my age I would manage to study at university level, let alone achieve good enough grades to succeed. I was afraid that I might be discriminated against because of my age or race, but nothing was going to stop me.

I have always wanted to go to university but, when my parents divorced, I had to look after my 6 siblings – I was 19 at the time… But, I never gave up, I was determined and believed in myself. 

My quest to become who I am today pushed me to apply for University.  As I searched for a university place, I came across Arden University and their blended learning courses. I knew from here that there was no turning back. 

I applied for a Healthcare Degree and before I knew it, I was enrolled. It was the best choice I have ever made. 

Arden offered a degree in Healthcare Management, and from my application through to induction the university communicated with me and supported me in making an informed decision - providing all the information about the degree and support available. 

I started University with little confidence. I remember I especially hated presenting in front of the class but two of my tutors Joan Gunde and Natalie Quinn-Walker ensured I conquered those fears and gained confidence in my abilities. Their support and encouragement helped me become the person I am today. 

In my first assignment, I achieved 70% and, seeing I could attain such a high grade, I never looked back, determined to reach my full potential. 

Even during the pandemic, Arden University made it possible to continue learning online, and not a single lesson was cancelled. I had good teachers who delivered the lessons to a higher standard and I enjoyed all the modules taking something away with me after each lesson. Our concerns and voices are heard and actioned on.

From March 2020, it has been the most difficult and challenging time, in work, university and at home. Working in the NHS, I found myself panicking and stressed as we lost our loved ones and colleagues. Emma, my colleague comforted me during my loss. 

Adjusting the way we work due to the pandemic was not easy and studying from home was a huge challenge at first. I felt overwhelmed. I struggled learning on zoom, not seeing my classmates face to face and not being able to do one to ones with the tutors but I have been determined to see my studies through and am incredibly glad I didn’t give up. 

It has not always been easy to juggle work, university and kids. Our family friends Carrie and Jason, helped me picking up and dropping off my young son, take him to football and they have been there for me and my two boys. Not forgetting, Birmingham Women’s and Children’s hospital, where I have been working since 2013, has supported me during my studies and I am ever grateful.  

My last university lesson was in March 2021 and four days later, I had managed to secure a management role in NHS on Band 5 on bank. A Band 6 Assistant Operational Manager position came up within the same department and I applied for it too. With my previous managerial experience and the knowledge, I had acquired from Arden University, I managed to secure the position coming top in an interview process that included a number of qualified external applicants. 

I am proud to be an Arden University Student and even prouder to have now graduated with a first-class degree. I am now very much looking forward to enrolling for my masters degree.

I owe a big thank you to my class mates and tutors Joan Gunde, Natalie Quinn-Walker, Rodolfo Catena, Taiwo Ross, Bolanle Ola, Shaheen Barratt, Harish Gupta, Elvis Gama, Shivali Bhatara and Philip Jones for all the help, guidance, support and imparting their knowledge. 

To find out more about blended and distance learning courses at Arden University, visit: