Kelly McGurk, 30 from Erskine is a testament to fellow females about how hard work, courage and dedication can pay off to achieve your qualification. During Kelly’s studies her dad sadly passed away and months later she fell victim to revenge attacks from her ex-boyfriend which resulted in online trolling.
Kelly said, ‘I originally opted to study hairdressing at College, but then I fell pregnant with my wee girl -and then put my life on hold for her. However as she started getting older, I got to the point that I needed to do something with my life.’
I’d always been interested in massage and nails and thought I’d apply and see how it went.’
Three years later and Kelly has qualified with her HND. She started her journey studying Level 6 Beauty Therapy and she tells us about how much she’s loved her three years at college even in the face of some huge life changing situations.
Kelly said, ‘ At the end of the NC my dad passed away and I was very close to quitting. I felt very lost. And then these revenge attacks started at the end of my HNC. I really didn’t know if I could continue my studies at HND level – but I thought ‘no – I’m doing this’ – I’m so glad I pushed myself.
In October 2017 Kelly was subjected to online harassment from her ex-boyfriend. It was only a matter of time before the police were involved. However in amongst all the media interest Kelly received a call from Women’s Hour.
Kelly said, ‘My ex and I had separated for about a year and last January I got a message from a girl who’d been sent pictures of me taken by my ex. I didn’t know he’d taken them and suddenly there were splattered over social media, it went viral on what’s app and Snapchat - it was horrendous.
I didn’t want to keep quiet, he’d ruined my life and I wanted everyone to know the truth - it went massive – the Sun, the Daily Record, Chat magazine, This Morning and Jeremy Kyle wanted to speak to me. In November last year Women’s Hour got in touch and invited me down to London to meet other girls who’d suffered online abuse alongside ‘Mother’ the biggest advertising agency in London; the focus was to work on a campaign to call out Online Trolls.’
The Women's Hour Campaign "Take Back Controll" was put in place to facilitate the opportunity for girls who have been a victim of online abuse to come and work together and put together a creative solution to raise awareness of online trolling - as well as helping the girls that are involved to come to terms with what has happened.
Kelly added, ‘The advertising agency Mother came up with a quirky idea of victims to sing a song condemning online trolls which would be supported by Charlotte Church and other celebrities. I’ll never forget seeing Charlotte Church walk into the recording studio and thinking ‘is this really happening?’
After Kelly’s ordeal she showed great strength of character making sure she kept on top of her studies. Kelly has advice to any students who are thinking about studying Beauty Therapy at college.
She says, ‘My advice would be if it’s what you’re interested in, then you need to be 100% dedicated. It’s not easy. HN level is university level and it’s tough, but if you’re dedicated you’ll get through it. I think there is stereotype out there that people think that Beauticians just do practical work and have no intelligence – sort of like a Barbie Doll that has air between its ears. You’re studying quite difficult units like Anatomy which is comparable to 2nd year university work. It’s hard work – but if you have time management and ambition you’ll get there.
Now Kelly is qualified she’s got ambitious plans for the future. She’s in the process of opening her own mobile therapy business. She’s chosen to start her own business so she can manage her work life balance and ultimately be her own boss.
Kelly added, ‘I’m in the middle of setting up my mobile unit. I know a few people who are working in salons and that’s fine if that’s the route you want to go down - but I wanted to be my own boss, pick my own hours and work around my wee girl.’
As for the online trolling ordeal Kelly actually kept this to herself whilst still keeping on top of her studies.
‘I didn’t tell anybody. One of my lecturers found out from Facebook about the song. The lecturers were upset I didn’t tell them, but my studies were my studies and I wanted to keep that part of my life focussed. If I could help one person through all of this then I’ll have set out what I meant to.
I’m so proud of myself for sticking through it and so many times I wanted to give up, but I didn’t. I continued and now I’m qualified and no one can take that away from me.’
If you’d like to know more about our beauty courses starting this August across our three campuses then click here.