Former factory worker scoops a doctorate

Dr Dan Reed
Dr Dan Reed
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A Wearside zoologist has become the first city college access student to gain a doctorate.

Dan Reed, 39, who now speaks at conferences around the world, has become the first Sunderland College Access to Higher Education student to achieve a PhD.

Dr Reed, who left his role at Hogg Engineering to pursue his studies in 2007, completed an Access to Higher Education course, which is designed for people over 19 who are looking to return to study to advance their career.

He went on to study for a degree in Zoology at Newcastle University and has now qualified with a doctorate in Evolutionary Biology, becoming the first Sunderland College Access to Higher Education student to successfully compete a PHD.

With conference organisers approaching him to speak at events as far away as New York, Dan is held up by the college as a shining example of what can be achieved, with hard work and determination.

Dr Reed, who received his doctorate earlier this month, said: “I really do have to pinch myself when I think about how far I have come.

“When I made the decision to go to college, I didn’t think for one minute it would end in me achieving a doctorate, and I am so pleased, and grateful to Sunderland College for setting me off on this track and showing me that anything is possible.

“Access courses really can provide an accessible route back into education for people who feel that they want to add to their knowledge or pursue a career in a new industry. For me, to move from working in a factory to a career in zoology shows that it is never too late to change your path, and to end up doing something completely different, if that is what you want.”

Dr Reed has spoken at conferences including to the International Society for Behavioural Ecology, in the US, and to delegates at the Natural History Museum in London. He also occasionally presents lectures and seminars as well as teaching students practical skills at Newcastle University.

He added: "To become the first Sunderland College Access to Higher Education student to achieve a PhD is an incredible achievement, and it feels quite surreal. I’m delighted”.

Ellen Thinnesen, principal and chief executive of Sunderland College, said: “Dan is a true inspiration for adults who are thinking of changing their careers or who are wishing to progress further through an education pathway, such as an access qualification.

“He is an excellent example of how an access to higher education qualification can open the door to a bright future and that if a student has a can do attitude and is prepared for hard work – anything is possible.”