LAST week marked the end of an era when Alex Salmond stood down as First Minister. He leaves the office responsible for considerable achievements, the pinnacle of which was guaranteeing free university education for students in Scotland by scrapping fees introduced by Labour.

The education sector in Glasgow has seen the benefit of this policy, and it means that education in Scotland is based on the ability to learn, not to pay. It is a right not a privilege.

With such big boots to fill, only an Evening Times columnist could possibly have the necessary qualifications for office.

No readers, not me, but I'm delighted that Nicola Sturgeon has taken over as First Minister of Scotland.

I first met Nicola 13 years ago, when she gave a speech to my fifth year Modern Studies class.

Her passion and commitment to making this country better hasn't waned one iota since - if anything it has increased.

It was a momentous occasion to see Scotland's first female First Minister elected, and the sizeable crack this has made in the glass ceiling is hugely important.

It was a great honour to sign her nomination papers in Parliament and accompany her to her first FMQs on Thursday. If you have not seen or read her first speech as First Minister, I would recommend it to you.

The First Minister put social justice at the heart of the Scottish Government's agenda.

She spoke movingly about her eight-year-old niece, Harriet, who was in the gallery watching proceedings.

She spoke of her hopes that issues such as the gender pay gap and under-representation of women would be relegated to history for every young girl.

I know that she will work hard to dismantle the barriers which are still in place and promote equality.

It was evident that Nicola Sturgeon is a grounded and empathetic person.

And the fact that she represents Glasgow in the Scottish Parliament is a matter of great pride to her.

Significant challenges remain, however, and in her first FMQs she made a genuine offer to opposition parties across the spectrum that she will work with whoever brings forward good ideas.

This is the new politics the people of Scotland are demanding and the new First Minister has demonstrated her eagerness for consensus and collaboration across the political divide in the best interests of the country.

I HAVE recently signed the Epilepsy Consortium Scotland vow to do something for epilepsy in the coming year.

I will be holding a specific constituency surgery for those with epilepsy to better understand their day-to-day challenges and hear of any other issues they might have that I can assist with.

I will keep readers updated once the details have been confirmed, but in the meantime you can keep an eye on my website