A professional female rugby player is proving that she has brains and brawn in equal measure, by combining nursing studies at The College Ystrad Mynach with the hectic lifestyle of an international rugby player.
And during Adult Learners’ Week (12 - 18 May), the captain of the Welsh women’s rugby team is proof that a good education is just as vital to a professional sportsperson.
Rhian Bowden, 26, from Caerphilly, is studying Access to Nursing at The College - a popular course choice for people looking for a pathway into the medical professions.
As Captain of the Welsh women’s rugby team and having played for Wales in the 2010 World Cup and Six Nations Tournaments, Rhian has an intensive training regime, which is why the three-day a week course at The College is perfect for her.
Alongside her rugby career, Rhian gained a degree in Sport and PE at UWIC University in 2007. She then went on to complete a Personal Trainer and Sports Massage course and started working for Fitness First. However, due to the time clashes with her rugby training, Rhian left Fitness First and started working for an Insurance Company.
After two years, Rhian - who plays club rugby for Crosskeys - decided that she wanted a more active and challenging career and enrolled on the Access to Nursing course at The College Ystrad Mynach.
The year-long course gives students an understanding of the sciences and the theory of nursing. Most students will then use the skills learnt on the course in a medical University degree.
Rhian said: “I really wanted to branch into a career where I could help and interact with different people and be faced with different challenges every day. Although I love playing rugby it does take up a significant amount of my time which is one of the reasons I was attracted to the course, because it offers flexibility.
“When I have important rugby games, the staff at The College are always extremely supportive and understanding which has been a huge benefit since it makes juggling priorities easier.”
Currently studying for her final assessments, Rhian is hoping to achieve an Access to HE Diploma in Nursing in July 2012. Following this, she plans to attend Glamorgan University where she will study a three-year nursing degree.
Rhian continued: “I really enjoy studying and it’s something which stands out in the rugby team as I’m the only one who’s learning to become a nurse. Who knows, it may even come in handy on the pitch one day! It’s great to know I have a career to fall back on.
“During Adult Learners Week, it’s a great opportunity to show other people that it’s never too late to change path and pursue a new career, and adult education is a great way of getting on the right path.”
Gail Franklin, Access to Nursing Lecturer at The College, said:
“Rhian is an exemplary student who always works extremely hard despite having such a busy schedule. We are delighted that she has received offers to study at the University of Glamorgan and Cardiff where we know she will excel.
“She is a highly committed individual and is an excellent role model for adult learners everywhere.”