Alice Jane Fletcher-Mills

My 16-year-old self would never have imagined that at age 50, I would graduate from university with a ‘first-class’ honours degree.

Having struggled with literacy skills throughout my time in compulsory education and deeming myself as ‘non-academic’, my 16-year-old self would never have imagined that at age 50, I would graduate from university with a ‘first-class’ honours degree, achieve 92% in my dissertation and be recognised as ‘the best-performing student in SEN’ during 2022/23.

Following the birth of my children in 2010, it soon became apparent that they viewed the world ‘differently’. My journey became ‘our’ journey, and I have devoted the past decade to learning, exploring, and considering the world through their eyes to understand and help remove any barriers that may prevent them from achieving their goals. My children have enabled me to gain virtues of compassion, patience, and resilience and inspired me to enrol on the undergraduate course at Holy Cross College to study special educational needs.

As I embarked upon this new chapter, I remember being filled with mixed emotions, eager to learn but at the same time feeling apprehensive and questioning my worth. Was I intelligent enough? Would I understand? Can I write an essay? After meeting Roshan, my fears were quickly replaced with confidence and positivity. I learnt of the support available, from library study skills to academic writing sessions and personal one-to-one support from academic tutors. The inclusive teaching methods adopted by the Liverpool Hope tutors also made my learning journey an enjoyable experience. I did struggle with time writing my essays, and although I met each deadline, I found this challenging. After talking with Roshen, it was decided that the university would have me assessed by an educational psychologist. I was discovered to have a specific learning disability with my working memory. Learning about my differences made me feel liberated, as all I needed was extra time, and I was provided with a learning support plan. This extra support helped me flourish as I achieved A grades across both disciplines throughout my second year.

Completing this degree taught me to view disability through the social model, recognise and value diversity and develop a passion for promoting inclusion. I firmly believe that every human being, regardless of age or ability, should be able to be themselves and have the freedom and choice of functioning (being and doing) that are valuable to them regardless of the environment, whether in education, the workplace, the wider community or within the home.

The knowledge I have gained has enabled me to further my studies as I am now a postgraduate student at Salford University enroled on the accelerated Master of Science programme in occupational therapy.