Grantham College’s Graphic Designer & Web Editor and ex-student Chelsea Toulson’s speech at the Award’s Night

Grantham College recently celebrated the success of students at their annual Awards Night. The guest speaker of the night was an ex-student who is now the college’s Graphic Designer & Web Editor; Chelsea Toulson. She shares her wonderful journey from discovering her passion, to following her dreams regardless of setbacks along the way. Read her full speech here.

Let me begin by welcoming all of you to today’s event and thank you for inviting me to speak today. I'm very pleased to be here to join you in celebrating this wonderful occasion and also very nervous.

I just want to say "congratulations" to all of you on your success. You thoroughly deserve to have this celebration of your achievements. You should be very, very proud of yourselves.

I am here tonight to talk to you briefly about how Grantham College has played a big part in my studies and now career. My name is Chelsea and I am currently working here as the Graphic Designer & Web Editor in the Marketing department.

Before coming to Grantham College, I was studying my A levels at KGGS sixth form, and it didn’t take me long to realise that KGGS really wasn’t the place for me. I did eventually end up failing my first year there and as you can imagine at the age of 17 how worried I was about my future.

I decided to book an appointment with the careers advice team here at Grantham College and they couldn’t be any more helpful. I spoke to them about what subjects I enjoyed most at school which were Art and ICT. At the time I never really heard of Graphic Design as my school didn’t offer this as a subject so this was all new to me and then before I knew it I was signed up to the BTEC Graphic Design course. Alongside this course, I did carry on my A-level Art at KGGS as this was the only subject I didn’t fail on.

My two years here at Grantham College – it’ scary to think this was 7 years ago! Time really does fly by but Grantham College has helped shape my future career path. Without the help of the Graphic Design tutor, Dave, I really wouldn’t have gained all the skills and knowledge I needed to prepare me for my time at University.

Studying a vocational subject rather than traditional academic course really suited me, I preferred the coursework and practical side rather than exams. There were different projects in the time table from typography, book design, web design, illustration (which was my favourite) & many more. Dave encouraged us to work from our sketchbooks before turning it to the screen. This really helped me when it came to going to University as it was already drummed into me from an early stage and it also enabled me to create a big portfolio of work to showcase.

It wasn’t all work, we did go to London to visit the National Media Museum to get inspiration for an upcoming project to advertise an exhibition they were having and to look at other artists and designers work in the flesh. I really think it’s important to do this as it really encourages students to not just use the internet for inspiration but to get out and see what’s out there.

It got to the last year of my course and I was starting to think about university. I remember sitting with Dave at the time discussing whether I wanted to go or not. At the time, I didn’t, but he really encouraged me to go and I’m so glad I did. Not only did it enhance my skills and knowledge learnt in my two years of college but you build connections with other tutors and designers in the same field and you also make friends for life. I went to study Graphic Design at the University of Lincoln and graduated with my Bachelor of Arts degree in Graphic Design in September 2015.

Graphic design is such a competitive career path to choose so since graduating it was quite hard for me to find a job close to home in my degree. I started off doing some freelance work for small local companies, gaining work experience and really just boosting my portfolio for interviews.

Whilst applying for jobs I saw they were looking for a Graphic Designer & Web Editor in the marketing department here at Grantham College so I applied. I got called in for an interview a week later and was greeted by the lovely Jade on reception and I knew it was right for me when I walked in; nothing had changed everyone was still so friendly and welcoming. I then got called on the Friday saying I'd got the job!

It’s nearly been a year that I’ve worked here now and it’s honestly just flown by. This must be because I’m enjoying it. And I can honestly say this is true, working in the marketing department isn’t that easy, we have a lot of pressure but working with two people I really enjoy working with Jaz, my manager and Aprila, the Social Media & Marketing Assistant has really made it a fun working environment to be.

Grantham College has helped me through a tough time at the start of my education, throughout my studies and they have also helped me in the start of my Graphic Design Career path. Everyone here will all have a different story, it may have been easy for you or hard but my advice to you would be not to give up, you will all get there in the end. Grantham College has some amazing staff here. Thank you everyone for listening and I hope you have a good night and good luck for the future.