A MARINE biology graduate has altered her course after securing a national award to study journalism. Darlington College student Darcie Rawlings is the first at the college to receive financial support worth more than £4,000 from the National Council for the Training of Journalist’s diversity fund. The 22-year-old is now studying a level 5 NCTJ diploma in journalism with a view to becoming an investigative reporter one day. The aim of the initiative is to attract budding journalists from a wide range of backgrounds. Darcie, of Consett, lived in a socially deprived area for many years and is from a low income, single-parent household. But her background didn’t stop her going to Newcastle University where she successfully read a BSC honours degree in marine biology and a masters in international multi-media journalism. “I always loved writing but had already accrued considerable student debit and, while working part-time, was reluctant to take on more,” she said. “I applied to the NCTJ diversity fund. It was quite a hefty application process in which I talked about why I thought diversity in journalism was important and about my passion for journalism. I was thrilled to secure award as it now pays for the course and £200 towards my living expenses.” Darlington College journalism programme leader Sue Calvert said Darcie was the first to receive the diversity award. She added: “Darcie shows real drive and is clearly loving the course. Journalism is a lynchpin of local democracy and it is so important that training is accessible to all.” In the summer Darcie attended a conference with the Centre for Investigative Journalism at Goldsmiths University, London. “It was amazing just learning and networking,” she said. “I’d never even met a journalist before then and it’s inspired me to do some investigative work myself. “Marine biology, being in a lab or even worse on a trawler counting fish stocks – I’ve never felt so ill – didn’t suit me, but the skills I gained are still relevant. I realised I needed to work with people and taking a leap into journalism has really paid off.” For more details on opportunities at Darlington College visit www.darlington.ac.uk.