By: Daniella Jade Lowe
My educational experience as a disabled student has not been easy. Every step of the way has been a learning curve and a fight one way or the other with many hurdles to overcome. I graduated from Berkeley Institute, Bermuda in June 2009. After receiving a deferred offer from the University of Essex in England, I originally pursued further education at Bermuda College. However, I found that this was not possible as there was no wheelchair accessibility.
As an alternative, I was referred to Snowdon Reid, a college recruiter from the Bradford College, through Bermuda College. I enrolled at Bradford College to do my A levels. However, I only did that course from 2009-2010. On my own, I had to persuade faculty that I was willing to cope with living by myself and studying. Despite concerns, I maintained the mentality and focus that I needed to complete college in order to gain more UCAS points to get into university. I met with fierce opposition from English Tutor who gave me the impression that she was discriminating against me due to just being in a wheelchair. I sought help to deal with this but eventually dropped the subject.
I felt that the A levels were more stressful, intense and competitive than my degree. However, I still found ways to get things done. At one point, I got one to one tutoring online to help with my A Levels. I was allowed to stay. Snowdon Reid was a good advocate. I also had a Support Worker named Joan Pheasant from SHINE Charity who helped me apply for benefits and gave me personal advice for independent living. It was a difficult first year. There was lots of snow which made navigating hills tough. I used lots of taxi’s. I did all shopping by myself, paying bills, buying groceries and balancing funds. I started using an electric wheelchair for travelling to college and back. I also attended El-Shaddai Church, where I made lots of new friends and support. Main friend I met was Bruce. Another good advocate and friend that I met was Karl Oxford who also used to attend El Shaddai Church and was also a member of the Directorate of the Bradford College.
Between 2011-2013, I had Personal medical issues to overcome, with ongoing visits to doctor office on campus. I ended up getting additional Health and Social Care which included a Social Worker, carers, and District Nurses to help cope with general heath while studying. During my Second year, I completed an Access course in Humanities and Social Sciences. It was a-2-year course. In the end I graduated with a Diploma.
From 2013-2017, I completed an undergraduate degree in History and Politics. After registering with the Disability Office, I got a Study Coach and specialist equipment. I repeated the first year after not satisfying requirements to pass. During my Second year, things were ok. In my third year, I, along with the rest of my peers, received a Dissertation Supervisor in addition to my Study Coach to help satisfy requirements and the External Board of Examiners. On July 19th 2017, I graduated with Second Honours. I’ve now moved to llkley for work experience. I am an aspiring journalist, politician and advocate for people with special needs. Despite the hurdles and challenges faced, overall, studying in England has been worthwhile and enjoyable.
My saga in looking for employment has been interesting so far. In addition to creating my own LinkedIn and Universal Jobmatch accounts, I’ve sent several applications and been turned down. I’ve been attending Jobcentre meetings. I’ve even visited Remploy in Leeds but they couldn’t help me. My Care Navigator and I visited Clarke Foley Centre where I’ve got voluntary work so far, every Wednesday from 9:30-12:30 as a receptionist. I’ll be answering the phone as well as helping with their bulletin, selling event tickets and social media.