Mum of two preparing to graduate as paramedic after finally pursuing her lifelong ambition

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

A mum is finally fulfilling her "lifelong ambition" of becoming a paramedic after returning to education at the age of 37. 

Gemma White spent over a decade working with adults with learning difficulties and had also worked as a lifeguard and swimming teacher, before deciding it was time to follow her dream. 

Now in her third year on Coventry University's paramedic science course, Gemma is in the final stretch to seeing that dream become a reality. 

Gemma, who turns 40 this month, said: "I always like helping people and working with people and I've always had a caring side. It's always something that I've wanted to do, but just never thought I'd be able to do it. 

"I think during Covid it really hit home that if I was going to do it, I needed to do it now. I worked with adults that had learning difficulties for 12 years, so that really inspired me to pursue my dream and here I am. 

"I've got two children as well and they were getting older and I thought if I don't do it now, I don't think I'll ever do it because I'm getting older as well. I also just gave myself a kick and was like I need to do it now." 

As for what her children think of mum becoming a life-saving paramedic: "They are really proud," said Gemma. "They keep asking how long I've got left to go because I do say I've got uni work to do quite a lot at home. But they have really enjoyed the fact that they can say 'my mum's training to be a paramedic'." 

Gemma, from Shipston-on-Stour in Warwickshire, completed an online access course during the Covid pandemic before enrolling on the paramedic science course at Coventry University. As well as lectures and teaching sessions, the course includes placements giving Gemma first-hand experience of what the job will be like once she graduates. 

She said: "I like the variety of it. There's lots of different things and every incident you go to is different. I thought for me that's what I wanted to do. 

"The course has been challenging at times, but it has definitely helped me. The lecturing team have helped me to see that I can do it. I do struggle a little bit with my confidence, so I think I've had quite a lot of support here from my colleagues and from the lecturing team. 

"I feel that it's really helped me come out of my shell, as well as learning the skills that I need to go forward. A lot of times when you go to an incident, see it through and you know that you've genuinely helped that person, that's what we're doing it for." 

When asked if others should follow their dreams to become a paramedic, she said: "Do it. Definitely do it. Follow your dreams. It's been a long, hard road for me to get here, but I am so glad that I've done it and got here and anything's possible if you want it badly enough." 

About Coventry University 

Coventry University is a global, modern university with a mission of creating better futures. We were founded by entrepreneurs and industrialists in 1843 as the Coventry School of Design and we continue to work with businesses to ensure we provide job-ready graduates with the skills and creative thinking to improve their communities. 

With a proud tradition of innovative teaching and learning, Coventry University is now one of the largest in the UK and has world-class campus facilities, the UK's first standalone 5G network and a digital community of learning. Our students are part of a global network that has 50,000 learners studying Coventry University degrees in more than 40 different countries and partnerships with 150 higher education providers worldwide.  

Over two centuries, we have flourished in our home city and Coventry University Group now also delivers access to our range of high-quality services and partnerships through bases in London, Scarborough, Belgium, Poland, Egypt, Dubai, Singapore and Africa. From September 2023, we will be teaching students at a new campus in China in a joint institution with Communication University of China. 

We have greatly increased our research capacity and capability with a focus on impactful research, delivered for and with partners to address real-world challenges and support the sustainable growth of business and communities. The depth and breadth of our rapidly growing research portfolio was validated by the latest UK research assessment, which saw us jump 22 places in the research power rankings. 

We were awarded a Gold rating in the 2023 Teaching Excellence Framework, proving we deliver excellence in what students care most about – teaching, learning and achieving positive outcomes from their studies. In 2022, we were honoured with the Queen's Award for Enterprise in the category of International Trade, the UK's most prestigious business award. In recent years, we have won many awards and vastly improved our rankings in the league tables that matter to students – but what matters to us is delivering transformational change for our students, partners and communities around the world as we continue to evolve into a global education group.