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Nursing student overcomes dyslexia and bereavement to collect 'life-changing' degree at Glyndŵr University

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A nursing student who overcame the challenges of dyslexia and bereavement while studying says gaining a first class degree has changed her life “in ways she never thought possible.”

Nettie Thomas, of Flintshire, completed a lifelong ambition when she collected her BA (Hons) Nursing (Pre-Registration) degree at Glyndŵr University.

36-year-old Nettie harboured ambitions to become a nurse from the age of 16 but lacked the confidence and belief that she could undertake education at a higher level.

But that all changed when she undertook a higher education diploma in psychology, criminology and forensics at Coleg Cambria, gaining distinctions in all three.

She started her degree at Glyndŵr University in September 2012 and went on to become a student information officer, and later a nursing learning representative, for the Royal College of Nursing.

Nettie, who also devised a scheme for improving nurse health and wellbeing which is currently being developed for trial in Welsh hospitals, now works as a community psychiatric nurse.

She said: “I knew that nursing was my calling but it took until I was in my 30s to feel ready. Up to then, my working life was varied, with roles in sales, marketing and event management and, for two years, working as a personal assistant to the British Ambassador in Oslo.

“I’d spent years driving past Glyndŵr dreaming of the day I would eventually have the courage to return to education and obtain my degree.

“I wanted to stand on the steps of the front entrance in my cap and gown and feel that sense of achievement – also knowing that I was starting a career I have dreamed of for 20 years.

“Like many other students, I had my highs and lows and days when I felt I could have quit while studying, but the drive to stand on those steps was too great to give in.”

Nettie discovered she had dyslexia while studying at Coleg Cambria and Glyndŵr University provided support to help her with it through her degree.

“During high school education I did not do that well academically but I thought nothing more of it,” she said.

“When I went to college we received a talk during induction which asked us questions about whether we struggled with concentration and other such things, which led to my initial assessment.

“It was the full assessment and following support at Glyndŵr University which I can honestly say has changed my life for the better.

“Thanks to the learning support team I’ve identified my learning style and the best way in which to work and structure assignments. They’ve helped me to understand my additional needs and embrace the diagnosis to make my life better.

"The nursing education team provided facilities such as a quiet room during exams which meant the difference between passing and failing.”

Studying ambitions haven’t stopped yet for Nettie, either, as she’s currently exploring opportunities to complete a doctorate in nursing.

She added: “I never thought I would ever be at the stage of obtaining a degree let alone a first. I completed the course saying that I would be happy with a degree but when it became apparent through my final essays that I was close to a first I became more determined than ever.

“I’m so glad that I have as it’s opened so many doors. Without Glyndŵr University it would not have been possible.”

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