College graduates celebrate

College graduates get set to celebrate at Trentham

STUDENTS from Stoke-on-Trent College are set for great careers as they graduate from Higher Education courses tomorrow.

Around 100 college students will be among more than 4,000 graduates at a ceremony at Trentham Gardens this week.

The students have studied on Foundation degree courses hosted by Stoke-on-Trent College in partnership with Staffordshire University in a range of subjects including Early Childhood Studies, Psychology, Information Technology and much more.

Among them is mum Michelle Richardson, aged 40, from Wolstanton, who hopes to collect her award herself, as she has battled with suspected MS while studying, making walking without a stick often impossible.

Michelle will be graduating with a Foundation Degree in Early Childhood Studies, and is hoping to secure a deal with a major publisher having written a novel while studying.

She explained:

“I found out about the course through my job at Hassell Primary School in Newcastle, and I did it with a possible intention of going into teaching. My health was absolutely fine for the first year of my course, but things started the summer after that. My eyesight began going funny, and while I was waiting for an appointment I got pins and needles in my legs and arms. I eventually saw a neurologist in the September, then in February 2012 my walking was affected and in May I was told it could be MS. It was scary as I didn’t know what was happening to my body, as some days I’d be fine, but halfway into my second year I was using a walking stick because my balance is affected. Using the stick at my age is horrible and would have made teaching impossible.”

But her condition didn’t stop Michelle handing in all her assignments on time, and with the support of her course tutors at the college she has now achieved a pass with merit.

“I can honestly say I only had one bad day when I thought I couldn’t finish the course, but I just felt MS had already taken enough from me so I was going to finish this. The college have been brilliant, and I would thoroughly recommend the course to anyone else. If ever I’d had a problem I know they would have helped, as there were others on my course who took time off to have children and they have supported them.”

Michelle remains extremely positive for the future, as while many of her fellow graduates will be progressing into teacher training, she has given up one dream to pursue another and hasn’t looked back.

“While I was doing my course last year I wrote a novel. I’d written poetry for years and always enjoyed English at school, and now my novel is under consideration with publisher Harper Collins. I’ve also not had a relapse since November, so I’m really looking forward to graduation day on Thursday which I’ll be celebrating with my 15-year-old son Alex, my husband Carl and my mother Sandra – so everything is good.”

Michelle also received the Higher Education Student Of The Year Award in June in a special ceremony held at the King’s Hall in Stoke organised by Stoke on Trent College.

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