Lauren looks forward to international life thanks to local legacy

The legacy of a North East champion of education is reaching across the globe, thanks to a young graduate teacher.

Primary Education student Lauren Ord, 25, graduated from the University of Sunderland this week.

The newly-qualified teacher won this year’s Sir Tom Cowie Excellence Scholarship Award, receiving £10,000 to support her in her final year.

Lauren has taken full advantage of the opportunities and financial freedom the award has given her over the last year, and now is moving to Thailand to teach.

Lauren said: “I’ve decided to move to Thailand to teach. My passion lies in teaching children with EAL (English as an additional language). I know the skills gained from my degree will benefit children to develop their English skills, which will give them opportunities worldwide.”

The Sir Tom Cowie Excellence Scholarship Award was set up in memory of the Wearside-born entrepreneur who died in 2012. Sir Tom was a long-term supporter of the University and believed passionately in its principles of affording those with talent, regardless of background, the opportunity to enter higher education. As part of his legacy, the Sir Tom Cowie Excellence Scholarship Awards were set up to support students to achieve their full potential.

Lauren, from Sunderland, studied sport at Gateshead College but, unsure of what direction to go next, decided to spend some time travelling, and that is where she found her passion for teaching. But it wasn’t an easy road, and to make ends meet Lauren worked as a swimming teacher, gym instructor and a sales consultant for Everyone Active.

Lauren says being awarded the £10,000 Sir Tom Cowie Scholarship has made a huge difference to her life and to her studies.

“The Tom Cowie Award has been life changing for me. The funding has allowed me to leave my job, which has allowed me to focus on my studies and placement, and I received a First class honours degree.”

Free from the need to work in her final year Lauren took on additional training, including SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disability), and EAL (English as an Additional Language), which led to her taking a post in Chanthaburi, Thailand, teaching primary school children.

“I’m most looking forward to immersing myself in a different culture and starting my career as a primary school teacher.

“My biggest challenge is going into the unknown. I’m moving to a new environment where the majority of people don’t speak my language, and that will be challenging! But the support I’ve had from the University of Sunderland, the Tom Cowie Scholarship team and my family has enabled me to be able to teach abroad independently.”

As Lauren prepares to pack her bags and leave England she still has one eye on the legacy of Sir Tom Cowie, and plans to return one day and share what she has learnt.

“I plan to stay in Thailand teaching for now, but I will return to the UK in the future to teach English as an Additional Language and early years education.

“Thanks to the legacy of Sir Tom Cowie, I have found my passion for teaching.”

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