WEARING three hats comes as second nature to Grant Mackie – and now he’s added another.
Being a prison officer, a firefighter and a dad-of-four would be challenging enough for most people, but Grant took on even more when he applied to study for a degree.
Grant, an officer at Hassockfield Secure Training Centre in Consett and retained firefighter, yesterday graduated alongside hundreds of other University of Sunderland students at the Stadium of Light.
Straight after the ceremony, he headed back to his day job of dealing with prisoners and caring for the community.
The family man, from Durham, who works with County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service, found himself at a crossroads in his career four years ago and, after completing his foundation degree in Health and Safety Management with Sunderland, decided to further his education by studying for an Applied Management degree.
Grant said: “Studying for a degree is always something I’ve wanted to achieve and it was missing from my CV.
“I’ve held management positions most of my working life and I also feel I have been in the education system most of that time with various certificates and diplomas on the way.
“I think the main driver for me was that most employers, and my current employer in particular, seek education to degree level for any advancement so achieving the qualification fulfilled both a personal ambition and boosted my career.”
Grant, who received his degree from Chancellor Steve Cram, is now considering the option of a Masters degree at Sunderland, but for now he admits he will be enjoying time with his wife Sally and children Gemma, 26, Molly, 10, Charlie, seven, and Ewan three.
He added: “Studying at Sunderland has certainly given me the confidence and knowledge to challenge decisions and raise issues and ideas of my own.
“The course has not just helped my work ethic but also my personal life with better planning and time management. I’m going to consider the option of a Masters degree with Sunderland, but at this moment in time I am enjoying the rest because juggling work, family life and study was a little difficult and sometimes stressful.”
l SUNDERLAND’S own football sensation Steph Houghton was “humbled” to pick up her honorary award.
The England, Arsenal and Team GB star Steph Houghton has received her honorary fellowship in recognition of her outstanding success on the pitch in 2012 at the winter graduation ceremony.
Steph, 25, is an international footballer who became a household name following her goalscoring exploits at the London 2012 Olympics.
Born in Durham, Steph made her club debut for Sunderland before winning the FA Women’s Premier League Cup for Leeds United Ladies and then signing for Arsenal in 2010.
She has since played 38 times for the England national team and became Team GB’s record goal-scorer at the London 2012 Olympics.
Steph started her football career at Sunderland and helped the club win promotion from the Northern Division in 2005-06, and then won the FA Young Player of the Year Award in 2006-7. In April 2012, she was appointed as one of eight digital media ambassadors to raise the profile of women’s football.
She said: “To receive a degree from the University of Sunderland, the city where I began my football career and also as a Sunderland supporter, is unbelievable.”
University Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Fidler said: “We are proud to pay tribute to her.”