Born and bred in a family of teachers, Heather Anderson always knew she would one day follow in her parents’ footsteps.
The 24-year-old has graduated from Aberdeen University’s PGDE primary teaching degree and plans to continue her journey in masters of education to become a teacher.
Miss Anderson has been striving to use her strong passion for learning and teaching to help children “grow and progress” ever since she graduated from high school.
At just 18, she flew thousands of miles from her hometown Forres to South Africa, where she volunteered as a teaching assistant for Project Trust – taking the first step towards her dream career.
After spending 12 months of working with children of all ages, which she describes as an “amazing experience”, Miss Anderson was certain that teaching was her calling.
‘Teaching has always been my calling’
She said: “I love it so much I can’t ever imagine myself in another job at all.
“It’s the connection you make with the children and the joy of watching them grow and progress – helping them with their homework, organising different activities or just spending time with them to build a relationship and understand them.
“It’s amazing how sometimes the smallest things can have the biggest impact – seeing how proud they are of themselves and of their achievements, makes me feel proud.”
As part of her course, Miss Anderson had the opportunity to have her boots on the ground once again as a teacher in Smithton Primary in Inverness and Auldearn Primary.
Referring to the time she spent at the schools, she said the two placements were “the biggest highs” of her student experience.
She added: “I was fortunate enough to be in two fantastic schools with amazing staff and wonderful children. I created such a strong bond with them, and even though I was only there for a short while it made it very hard to leave.
“With our placement being cut short, I was worried I wouldn’t feel prepared enough to have my own class by the end, but to my surprise I have been rearing to go in August ever since.
“It just shows that if you put the dedication in, you can achieve your goals no matter what is being thrown at you.”
A difficult year with many ‘highs and lows’
Like many other graduates this year, Miss Anderson never got the chance to meet her fellow course mates or even set foot in the university campus.
And although she admits that there have been a number of different “highs and lows” through the events in the past 18 months, she said she couldn’t be prouder of her achievements.
“I honestly think I’m even more proud of myself for graduating in such a hard year, where I’ve had to deal with some of the toughest challenges I’ve ever faced,” she said.
“It’s been difficult doing the course without being able to meet anyone in person, but the support around me has been phenomenal.
“I may not have had the same experiences and placements as ‘non-Covid’ PGDE students, but I am so grateful for how the university managed to pull through all odds and give us a fantastic year.”