A mum has fulfilled a lifelong dream of teaching after graduating with an Open Honours degree.

Lisa Smith, 42, of Edward Drive, Chelmsford, is now a trainee maths teacher at the Mayflower High School , in Billericay after five years of studying.

She said: "I first studied at the University of Indianapolis when I left high school in the US and achieved an Associate Degree in Industrial Chemistry.

"In 1997 I moved to the UK with my husband and during the next 13 years I had 3 children and worked part-time to suit my family commitments.

"When helping out at my children’s school I found myself back in the classroom learning how maths was being taught to children today.

"Teaching had changed significantly since I was in school and this whetted my appetite for more; I decided to embark on a career change into teaching maths.

"Universities in the UK would not accept my previous degree from the US, but fortunately I found the OU and they allowed me the option to transfer some of my credits from my past study.

"After 5 years of part-time study I have graduated with an Open Honours degree and throughout the last 4 years of my study I have also been working as a Learning Support Assistant in a Dyslexia Centre in a local school.

"There were some considerable challenges whilst I was studying; a fire at home resulted me severely burning both of my hands which prevented me from writing and using the computer, I had to learn to write with my hands in bandages and couldn’t attend tutorials in person as I couldn’t drive.

"Also my niece was diagnosed with an inoperable malignant brain tumour; that news stopped our whole family in its tracks as we learned to cope. "During these times the OU and the tutors were wonderful, very supportive.

"I applied for teacher training places and was accepted to begin teaching in the secondary school where I work.

"Achieving my degree has fulfilled a lifelong dream of teaching and I am excited for this new phase in my life and am looking forward to teaching.

"Without the Open University, my faith in God, and extremely supportive family, friends and work colleagues, I never would have made it.

"My children were at my graduation as I felt it was so important for them to see that hard work is rewarded and my parents flew over from America just to see me graduate!"