Class of 2020: Former London bus driver’s ambitious drive to become a pharmacist
A University of Wolverhampton student took the right route through Clearing by leaving his job as a London bus driver in an ambitious drive to become a pharmacist – and he has just become a Class of 2020 graduate.
Israel Marfo, 41, originally from Ghana in Africa but now living in Bilston, Wolverhampton, was a London bus driver for years before deciding he wanted to do something more challenging as a career.
After ten years of studying full-time, working part-time at night in a warehouse and in security roles as well as volunteering in community pharmacies, Israel has secured a 2:1 Master’s of Pharmacy degree.
He is now doing his pre-registration training at Well Pharmacies, part of Bestway Panacea Holdings.
Israel had always had a passion for chemistry but had left school in Ghana with no formal qualifications. After making the decision to switch his career, he stepped his learning up a gear and started to study at various colleges in London. He secured an Applied Science qualification at Level 2, passed his English and Maths GCSE qualifications before studying for a Biomedical Science qualification and then studied a three-year Access to Higher Education course to help him to get to University.
He had applied to a University in London to study Pharmacy but called the University of Wolverhampton during the Clearing period, securing a place on the BSc Pharmaceutical Science with Foundation Year which would provide a step up to the Master’s of Pharmacy Degree (MPharm) in the University’s School of Pharmacy.
Israel said: “Learning during lockdown hasn’t been easy. I’ve had to sit my exams at home surrounded by my family, but I had plenty of support from my wife who has encouraged me and helped me enormously.
“My handwriting was terrible when I began studying at the University and the Student Enabling Centre secured me some funding, which I had to pay towards, to help me get assessed – it turns out I was dyslexic. After being diagnosed I got additional support with exams and assessments which really helped me.
“It’s been a long journey but every step was worth it. Throughout all the studying and working part-time, during the night and during holidays, I also got married and had a child so there was a lot going on in my life – I was funding my studies, and also had a new family to look after.
“I can’t thank the University lecturers enough for all of their support. It feels great to have achieved so much after this length of time. Everyone thought I was stupid to give up my job as a bus driver in London, but now that I’m training to be a pharmacist and have almost achieved my goal I am proud that I have made a better life for myself. It’s an amazing achievement.
“It’s a very good University and does everything to give you the opportunity to succeed.”
Dr Colin Brown, Head of the Wolverhampton School of Pharmacy, said: “Israel’s story shows what can be achieved through hard work and determination and his drive to succeed in his ambitions had really paid off.
“We are really proud of our longstanding tradition of positive action in the recruitment of, support for, and development of students and staff who represent all groups within society.
“Our students predominately come from the local area and many arrive with disadvantages which we need to address early on. Our students undertake lots of small group enquiry based learning and they benefit from a lot of study and pastoral support.
“The MPharm course, in particular, provides considerable support for students in their transition from further to higher education. We recognise the needs and challenges faced by all of our students and we use teaching methods which breakdown barriers, promote inclusivity and develop the skills and attributes needed for success.
During his time at University, Israel was President and then Vice-President of the Pharmacy Society and was also a Course Representative.
His wife, Ama Dadzie, is also studying for a Nursing Degree at the University whilst working as a Housekeeper at New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton.
The University of Wolverhampton is currently ranked third in the UK for BAME attainment gaps in its School of Pharmacy.
The University of Wolverhampton has invested £1/2 million in interactive teaching spaces offering Pharmacy students flexible learning. First, second and third year students studying on the MPharm course have benefited from the £250,000 Team Based Learning facilities at the University’s City Campus in Wolverhampton.
The structured classroom space is equipped with touch screen technology and mobile classroom seating – all designed to create a collaborative and flexible learning environment and encourage student teamwork.
The University has also invested £250,000 in a new Pharmacy Practice Suite to support clinical aspects of the course.
More information about the MPharm course, including its integrated structure, the use of enquiry-based teaching and learning methods and the emphasis on skills and placement experience, can be found on the website.
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