|Photo: Amy King|
I have dreamed of becoming a scientist ever since I was child, and though I’m now well on my way to achieving that dream, it certainly hasn’t been easy. I have experienced nearly every avenue of education possible and have found that learning as an adult has been the most successful route in my pursuit of a science career.
I have had a turbulent education. I suffer from a chronic health condition called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and have undergone many intensive and painful surgeries. As a result, I spent three years out of conventional education, being home-schooled.
I was rarely supported by my schools at that time and was told I wouldn’t amount to anything due to ill health. I was discouraged to pursue a career in science, being told “pure science wasn’t for girls”.
Nevertheless, I worked exceptionally hard and despite being predicted low GCSE results, I achieved three As and seven Bs.
Studying A-levels at school wasn’t any better – even one of my tutors said I would never pass my exams and should give up. This was one of the lowest points in my education as I didn’t realise there was any other viable educational route.
However, after much contemplation and research, I left conventional schooling and continued my studies as an adult. I enrolled on an A-level maths course at a local adult education college; where I achieved an A grade. I then went on to study A-level biology, chemistry and physics at Bromley College, where I was one of the oldest students in my class.
I passed my exams with AAB grades and was accepted as a mature student at University of Greenwich to pursue a science career. I’m now studying for a Master's in chemistry.
Adult learning is incredibly important to me and has completely changed my life; from being a young girl who no one thought would achieve anything, I became something I wanted to be: a scientist. Adult education also gave me an outlet to focus on something other than my health and helped me cope with the pressures of the illness.
Access to adult education is one of the key issues affecting our country. With continuing loss of funding for 18-24+ education, it’s becoming more difficult for young disabled people, like me, to access education when they’re older and able to study.