Although I graduated from uni a while ago- in 2007- the experience itself is something I will never forget. University helped me open my eyes to the real world and become more of an individual.
However the process of getting into University was not a simple one as my 6th form School did not give me the support that I thought other students were getting so I had to find out many things myself. I first wanted to do computer science at Loughborough University, so with the help of a friend I got in contact with the disability officer for Computer Science and had a visit.
Having not seeing any of the Universities before I was not sure what to except and I did not know what to ask. However by the end of the visit I knew that the University of Loughborough was not for me. Part of this was because I was not sure how my care would be arranged which left me worried.
A few months later I found a course that was more fitting at the University of Hertfordshire with what I wanted to do career wise. So with this new excitement I approached the University (which was a lot close to home) and arranged to meet the disability liaison officer.
After visiting an Open day with a friend I met with the course leader as well as the department disability officer and the disability liaison officer to discuss the prospect of me enrolling there, which is where I came across one of the negative assumptions towards my disability. They wanted me to do the course at a part-time rate fearing that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the work load because of my Cerebral palsy, which I did not agree with. I tried to fight my corner and said
I wanted to do the course at the normal rate instead of looking a 6 year stretch but on this occasion I was overruled. Nevertheless I had decided that this was the course for me.
I was always adamant about experiencing university life to the fullest which also included living there, so the next step was to meet the disability housing officer who was really nice and helped ease a few of my worries. I got to view the flat I was going to live in early on as well as decide which room was better for me to turn into with my wheelchair. There was also a carer’s room next door for my assistant who was going to live with me. By the time it came to me starting University I felt that I had everything in place thanks to the housing officer and the disability officer for my course, who helped me arrange financial support from my council in the form of Disabled Students’ Allowance. This helped me finance my daytime P.A so that I could take notes in lectures and carry out my course despite my disability, which was another worry of mine.
After spending the first quarter of the year doing the course at a part time rate, my course leader and disability officer admitted their mistake and said I would be capable in doing the course at the normal rate. This meant that I would have to catch up with the rest of the course by the end of the Winter break but I was determined to do so.
This was the beginning of my University life which had its ups and downs as well its challenges but I can share that with you another time!