A university graduate is boxing clever after landing a dream teaching role.
Rebecca Newby, 21, from Peterlee, has secured her first job as a primary school teacher in Hartlepool after graduating from the University of Sunderland.
She took on a number of challenges while studying for her primary education with qualified teacher status at the university, including coaching children in Thai Boxing and supporting orphans in Bulgaria.
After graduating at the Stadium of Light, she will jet off to Thailand for a month to be put through a rigorous training regime ahead of an amateur Thai Boxing competition in the UK in August.
Rebecca will then start in her new role as a year three teacher in September.
She said: “I can’t wait to start my career and would recommend to anyone that Sunderland is a great choice and to embrace every opportunity that the university offers.
"The lecturers were great and very supportive, there was so much more to developing my skills than just the academic side, the placement opportunities were great and I even received help with my CV and interviews skills.
"I feel very lucky to be in the position I am now.”
Rebecca was the first person in her family to get into university.
She volunteered in a nursery before embarking on a BTech in childcare at college, securing a distinction grade, which landed her a place on the degree course at Sunderland.
She added: “I made sure I embraced every opportunity at Sunderland, as I was so grateful to have been accepted on the course.
"In my second year placement in a primary school I made excellent progress which lead me to being graded as an ‘Outstanding’ trainee.
"However, I wanted to build on this, as I felt I had a lot more to give.
"It was then that I decided to look for volunteering opportunities and came across the Bulgaria Volunteering Programme Gavroche.”
Rebecca credits the programme with boosting her employability as she worked with neglected, abused and vulnerable children from the Roma community, as well as those with learning difficulties.
She helped them to build self-confidence and integrate better socially.
She said: "I knew it would be challenging, especially given the difficulties of the children’s backgrounds, but they were wonderful.
"They appreciate so much that you do for them, even the tiniest gesture of kindness.
"One little boy had a lollipop stick with felt stickers on it bought from a pound shop, but was walking around as though I’d given him £100.
"it was a really life-changing experience.”
Rebecca has been taking part in Thai Boxing for four years and runs weekly classes for youngsters in Thornley with her partner Ryan O'Donnell.