Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Watch Commander Ben Carlin was inspired to study with the OU to achieve his long held personal ambition of gaining a degree but it has also helped drive his career success.
Having not gone to college or university from school, the married father of two always wished he had had the chance to get a degree.
Now at age 38 years, he has achieved a First Class Bachelor of Arts (Honours) History.
And in the week of his degree ceremony at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, it was confirmed he has been successful for a further promotion to Station Commander, once a relevant vacancy arises.
Ben says: “I wanted a university that had a good reputation and allowed flexibility. I was in the cinema and saw an advert for the OU and thought ‘that’s for me’.
I knew I was capable of achieving a degree and I’m really proud of achieving it. I am glad I chose The Open University as it allowed me to work around my work, hobby and family commitments.”
“I knew I was capable of achieving a degree and I’m really proud of achieving it.
“I am glad I chose The Open University as it allowed me to work around my work, hobby and family commitments.”
Ben has moved through roles as Crew Commander at Stirling Fire Station, and a temporary promotion to Watch Commander in 2020 before his current permanent promoted role of Watch Commander within Operations Frontline Support.
“My studies definitely helped with my promotion. The OU has given me confidence with writing documents, analysing sources and compiling data.”
And Ben did not stop there. Inspired to apply for the Station Commander Campaign 2022, he is now successfully awaiting a suitable vacancy.
“This new role will provide further opportunities for me to work with local partners and within communities to help make a difference to the wellbeing and safety of the people of Scotland,” he says.
Ben stays in Central Scotland near Falkirk. His son has autism and requires support, and his daughter is busy with dance and gymnastics training. He also secured sixth place in Scotland’s Ultimate Strongman competition during the time of his studies.
“I studied at home and had to juggle the challenges of working full time, raising a family with a disabled child, gaining a promotion at work and competing in a national strongman competition,” he says.
“My family continually inspire me and support me in my goals. Completing my degree has made me more confident in my abilities and helped me write more professionally at work.
“The key was time management and sticking to the task ahead. But picking an honours degree I was interested in made it a relatively painless experience!”
My tutors were an excellent support. They helped develop me and improve my writing style.”
Ben adds: “I loved interacting with other students and my tutors. But there was no pressure to immerse myself in that world which suited my busy schedule. It was there to be a part of it and I chose it to be that way.”
“For me, my tutors were an excellent support. They helped develop me and improve my writing style. But they also had a personal touch and took my personal circumstance into consideration whenever I needed help with assessment extensions.
“It really took the pressure off and allowed me to study the textbooks and enjoy the process.”
Main photo by Mick McGurk