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Ellen Sutton


Vice-Chancellor's Fund:Lee Child Scholarship Recipient 2012


Photography and Video

Ellen Sutton is certainly an inspiration to others. Her experiences have taken her from one extreme to the other, but with hard work and determination and the help of the Vice-Chancellors Fund, Ellen’s story is guaranteed a happy ending.

For Ellen, Photography has always been part of her life; starting at the early age of 11 she soon realised that turning her passion into a career made sense. After completing her Foundation Degree at Leicester College, she took some time out to work for a photography studio and during this time had her son Toby. Sadly due to a motorbike accident before his birth, Ellen was left a single parent. Despite these difficult circumstances, Ellen was determined to finish her degree, and applied to do so at DMU. ‘After a year or so, I wanted to go back and finish my degree. It felt like the time was right.’

A year later, Ellen achieved her ambition of getting a first class degree and is now undertaking further study on a year’s intensive business course at Leicester College to help her set up the photography business she has always dreamed of. Ellen believes that the scholarship she received from the Vice Chancellor’s Fund went a long way towards helping her obtain the first that she has always wanted as she was able to enhance her studies through the purchase of a Mac and all of the software she needed to produce the high standard of work required. ‘Having my little boy meant that I couldn’t use the library on campus in the evenings and I didn’t have a computer at home, so I was studying as much as I could in the daytime during timetabled hours. Outside of university I really needed to study but I didn’t have the facilities to do so. Buying my own computer made so much difference.’

Ellen is determined to not let her success end with her degree and is looking forward to setting up her own business next year. Something else that her scholarship has helped towards as she was also able to purchase studio lighting equipment which is allowing her to go out and take portraits and do both paid and unpaid work as and when she wants to. ‘Buying my own studio equipment has made me realise that running my own business is a real possibility. Using the equipment and drumming up business made me think that I better do some kind of business course to learn about accounting and things. It’s given me the motivation to move onto the next step.’

Ellen’s journey has been phenomenal and as part of her Enterprise and Entrepreneurship course, she will soon be pitching to nine investors with her photography based business idea. She will be looking for investment to help buy more equipment and aims to employ 8 people by next summer, which is evidence of how the fund has helped her not only financially but with her confidence levels too. ‘I was ecstatic to receive the scholarship. It was validation that I was on the correct path and right to believe that I can achieve my goals.’

Ellen’s hopes for the future reflect her ambition, drive and focus on her career. ‘Ten years from now I hope to be running my own successful photography business and be able to show my little boy that hard work really does pay off!’

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