“Being the odd one out in school knocks your confidence. I grew up thinking I was just plain stupid. A lot of children with hearing impairments will suffer from dyslexia. When we’re learning phonics in school, we miss the sounds and don’t grasp the spellings. Because I understand that now, it makes my learning ability easier, because I know it’s not just me. It’s not a disability or a condition, it’s just “dyslexia”

Colette’s just finished her first year of Adult Nursing at Anglia Ruskin University, Chelmsford. She’s originally from Liverpool but moved around a lot and settled in London at 18.

“School was not a nice experience, I went to eight different schools around England and missed chunks of my education. I was bullied for my hearing and hated standing up class so the teachers tended to leave me alone. I left school at 16 with no GCSEs.

When I had my daughter at 21, I went back into education. I couldn’t write a sentence, I said to the teacher “I’m an idiot, I can’t do this, I’m leaving”, she looked at my work and said to me “I think you’re Dyslexic, that’s where your issues lie” and from there I’ve just progressed. At 23 I had my son and was assessed for Dyslexia but when I tried to seek official support apparently I was too old. I was starting to progress but because I had kids, education was too much commitment. As my kids got older, I didn’t want to be a mum and not read and write. I wanted to be able to help them. I wanted to do more than just be a health care worker and realised I needed to go back into education.

I did the Access Course, which was difficult. I thought “If I can do this and pass this, I might just get into uni, I’ll have worked my up for 20 years.” What stopped me from walking away was a retiring colleague. She had a wealth of experience, I said “I don’t think I can do this, I can’t cope”. She turned round and said to me “You’ve got this, it’s not too hard, don’t be me in 30 years’ time”, I passed with merits! Anglia Ruskin University accepted me and I was floored. A year later, I’m here, doing really well and I can’t believe it.

When I was in college, Rebecca, my Disability Advising Officer was a blessing. She read what was needed, where my strengths and weaknesses were and told me about support available. Clarion UK have provided Kathryn, my Electronic Note-Taker. She’s a person, not a computer, she’s an absolute diamond and an immense support to me, we get on really well and that’s what I need. Without her I’d really struggle, she’s the most important part of the process at the moment. If I didn’t know this support was available I probably wouldn’t have gone to university, I wouldn’t be able to cope.

It’s hard balancing being a mum, a grandmother, a student and working. I’m juggling these four balls and keeping them in the air is tiring, but my kids are proud of me. I wanted to prove that if you strive for long enough you can achieve anything. If you want something, don’t sit back and moan about it, do something about it.

Once I’ve passed my nursing degree I would like to try A&E, I love the adrenaline and the fast pace. I don’t want to jinx it but I’ve planned my graduation dress and I’m going to start a family tradition. I may be the first in my family to graduate so I want to say to everybody, including my grandchildren, “I did it, here’s the evidence.”

My advice to anyone considering education would be to get out there and do it, start small and build yourself up. I’m so happy to have Clarion UK and my team because without them my learning journey would stop still. My education has been a struggle but it’s been worth it and I wouldn’t change anything. Whatever your difficulties are, challenge and push yourself. I’ve challenged and pushed myself and I got in! If you’re not sure what support’s out there, go and speak to somebody. With the right support and the right people, anything is possible.”

To find out more about the support that Clarion UK provides for students, get in touch or take a look at our website:

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