Through hard work and determination, Laura Williams, Area Manager at Tops Day Nurseries has recently been awarded a 2.1 in her BA degree, despite her dyslexia! We are so proud of Laura and we wanted to share her story:
“When I left school at 16, I had few GCSE’s. I didn’t enjoy school, but as soon as I started my NNEB at college I knew I wanted to work with children, I loved college. When I left college with my qualification, I went on to have many different childcare roles and worked my way up to manager’s positions. Despite my 13 years of experience in working with children, it was then I decided to apply for the Management and Leadership Foundation Degree. I didn’t think I would get in as I didn’t have much confidence in myself. I studied at Kingston University in South West London, working close by and attending college once a week.
It wasn’t until I started my second year I was diagnosed with dyslexia. I was really struggling to get higher grades, I was getting upset and angry and decided I couldn’t do any more and it wasn’t for me. I was having weekly tuition help and my tutor suggested I have a test for dyslexia. I didn’t think I could be – surely someone would have picked it up through my education? I went for the test which I found very distressing and was informed yes, I had dyslexia.
Through finding this out the test also suggests I have symptoms of Irlen Syndrome which is an eye problem and alters the way you see things (visual perception, the way the brain interprets visual information). I struggled to accept this and couldn’t understand why my school or parents picked up on this while I was in school.
Once confirmed I received some equipment to help me with my studies and any support if and when I needed it. I think the main thing that encouraged me to carry on was the fact that being diagnosed with dyslexia answered a lot of questions as for my whole adult career and probably school life I felt I had to work much harder than others and gave myself a hard time if I didn’t understand things like others would. I always thought I just wasn’t intelligent enough. Having this diagnosed I saw things in a different perspective. Now I feel a lot more confident and when I look back at the job roles I have succeeded in I am very proud of myself.
Just before my final year, I decided to move to be closer to my boyfriend who didn’t just live down the road but 104 miles away! I found a new job, handed in my notice and moved to Poole. I started my new job in a place where I knew no one. I had to find my way around an area that I didn’t know. Studying prevented me for doing things in the evening so I couldn’t really get to know people and working as an area manager can be a lonely job role but a very exciting role. I then travelled to London every 2 weeks on a Friday morning and attended Kingston University where my lessons were Friday and Saturday, I would then travel back on Saturday evening.
Even though it was all very stressful I was lucky enough to have a supportive family and boyfriend. With LOTS of determination I knew I would get through each assignment and onto the next. There were lots of tears through my final dissertation, but I am so proud to say I received a 2:1 in my degree, which I never ever thought I would achieve!
I would definitely recommend doing a degree. The self-achievement is amazing, it is hard work and you must be prepared to work long days at work and then get out a book in the evening. Your weekends are not your own but if you manage your time and study well then you can balance your social life too. Before doing my degree I thought I knew a lot about childcare as I was in the field so long, but now I have my degree I know much more.”
Laura receiving an ABCD award, flowers and chocolates from her South West managers for “all the help and support she offers, beyond their expectations”.