I started my journey with the University of Derby in 2016 as a mature student. I knew at this point in my life I was ready for change and felt ready to apply for the Access to Higher Education course at the University.
I have suffered with my mental health from a young age, but I have never let that stop me from facing new challenges. When I started at the University, the teaching team kept me on track and I decided to continue my studies to degree level.
I didn’t know what degree I wanted to do and, after some consideration, I applied and was offered a place on the Child and Family Health and Wellbeing course. I found out this was available to study as a Joint Honours degree, so chose to study this alongside a Counselling and Psychotherapy course.
Within a month of doing the two courses I knew I had a passion for Counselling over and above the other and so chose to swap to a single honours degree. The teaching team were great, helping me to understand the process of changing to single honours, helping me to fill out forms and make informed decisions.
Despite some issues at home that made concentrating on my studies difficult, I made it through my first year and even secured a job and a Union of Students role along the way. I became a Student Ambassador, working Open Days and visiting schools to promote Higher Education. I also became a Programme Representative for my cohort.
In my second year I really struggled with my health, both physically and mentally, and I needed guidance from my Personal Academic Tutor, Specialist Mentor and the Student Wellbeing team. With this support I was still able to achieve a First Class Honours.
I managed my extra-curricular activities by reducing my hours working as a Student Ambassador, due to a new role I had been successful in achieving as a Positive Mind Facilitator. Positive Minds is a peer led mental health support group. By prioritising the things that were going on in my life, finding a work-life balance really helped me to reduce stress.
In my third year I was elected as a Part Time Officer for mental health awareness and I have now applied for an MSc, so I’m looking forward to what the year has in store.
With the challenges that took place in my life throughout my studies, I would always turn to the Student Wellbeing team. They are very knowledgeable and helpful. I requested assistance and was given a Specialist Mentor who devised a support plan to help me throughout my time at the University. I also had a lot of support from my programme and college academics. Then there was the Union of Students team who became like a family. Through this team I was shown ways I could develop. Personally, from workshops and conferences, I feel that I have become more confident and gained personal skills that I would never have gained if I hadn’t joined the University of Derby.
Here to help
I try to support other students by empathising with them; I know how it feels to suffer with anxiety, so I make sure I’m available so anyone can talk to me. The support at the University is amazing and everyone here is so open-minded and welcoming, they make you feel at ease.
Communication is key. I would advise others to talk openly to their Programme Leaders and the Student Wellbeing team, to try new things and experience all that the University has to offer. This helped me explore my potential and find new strengths I didn’t know I had. I also made the most of the workshops provided by the library and through my course, and through getting involved in various roles across the University I have had the privilege to attend talks and conferences across the country.
University will challenge you academically and will test your determination. With the support available at Derby, it was possible for me to exceed my own expectations.