My name’s Ashleigh, and I’m a student at the University of Luton training to become a registered nurse. It’s my dream role, but it wasn’t always this way, and I nearly lost my opportunity to one fleeting moment… This is my Oxbridge ‘I Can. I Will.’ story and it’s all about my determination against all the odds.
From a young age, I lived a nomadic lifestyle, travelling from place to place. At just 13, my family uprooted and migrated to Spain. Leaving England behind, I was inspired by a new culture and made lifelong friends. Moving around a lot fuelled a desire to see more of the world, so I left to go backpacking as soon as I was old enough.
I lived a rather happy-go-lucky lifestyle, while committing myself to voluntary work along my travels. Being young and carefree came easy. But during my travels, I contracted malaria at only 21 and I nearly died. The malaria caused my brain to swell – It was very serious and VERY dangerous.
I was transported to the UK, where I was treated on the NHS by nursing staff who were amazing. And, despite losing my job to sickness, the support I received by the NHS grounded me and gave me perspective. It was the first time I knew nursing was for me. I began caring for the elderly in the UK, working 12-hour shifts, 7 days a week, to save money so I could move out of my parents’ house and focus on moving up the career ladder.
Once on my feet, I enrolled on a flexi-nursing degree at the University of Luton. Excited about my new direction, I was raring to make a difference. That’s when I encountered another obstacle… Two days into my induction, officials at Luton notified me that my GCSE qualifications were not valid due to recent changes in legislation.
I was expelled with immediate effect unless I produced evidence of the latest English and Maths certification. I appealed Luton’s decision and was given an ultimatum: pass my Level 2 qualifications within the month to be accepted back onto the course… or quit. My dream for the future was on the line, but I couldn’t give up.
Refusing to accept the circumstances I found myself, I immediately starting searching for a college to sit my English Level 2. Everywhere expected me to do at least a 16-week programme before sitting the final exam. That was until my friend, Sam, recommended Oxbridge, who assisted my request by fast-tracking my learning.
I was surprised by Oxbridge’s efficiency. Here I was, expelled, praying for a miracle, and next, I was enrolled on Functional Skills English Level 2, learning from my living room. I’d taken time off work, unpaid, to study-study-study. Oxbridge’s one condition was that I complete all modules and three practice exams before sitting my final exam.
I was fully prepared to invest in my future because it was a ‘now or never’ scenario. Turning my dining room into a library, I found myself thoroughly enjoying the topics. For example, my reading assignment was centred on hot issues, such as climate change and plastic pollution. It was fascinating reading the differing views on the matter.
In one assignment, I was tasked to write to a local newspaper and, in another, I learnt how to write friendly emails. Through the power of language, I learned to express myself and persuade others with words. I thought I was going to nosedive on my speaking exam, but working with the Oxbridge team, I only received positive feedback and top marks.
After a whirlwind of setbacks, my learning journey was starting to fall in place. Previously, I found traditional learning at college a chore. Classroom-oriented tasks made me feel like a child again, and I just couldn’t get excited. But as a distance learning student, I was more comfortable at home where I was free from distractions.
Once I start something, I’ll do everything in my power to move forward. Oxbridge were with me the entire way and as soon as I enrolled, my course pack arrived the next day. My tutor Kerry was already ready to mark my assignments, and Simon, the curriculum manager, stayed with me after hours so I could pass my exam on time.
On the first run, I failed my English exam by one mark! Yet I didn’t even have time to mope about it, because thankfully Simon quickly organised a re-sit. Before my second attempt, Kerry went over every detail of my course to make sure I was fully prepared. There was no more time for mistakes; this was my last shot at getting back into Luton.
I thought it was great that the Oxbridge team got involved in my speaking exam because it proved that every single person was ready to help me succeed. They weren’t intimidating at all! They were easy to talk to and gave me the correct prompts if I was struggling. It made a real difference and helped me put forward new ideas that answered the learning outcomes of the exam.
When Oxbridge called to say I passed with flying colours, my emotions were all over the place! I was so proud of myself and filled with gratitude, but also completely exhausted, as you can imagine, but I’d done it! It was a rollercoaster, but I’d proven my worth, and Luton accepted me back onto my degree. So now, I work 37.5 hours a week as an Assistant Practitioner and when I graduate, I’ll become a Registered Nurse.
I know loads of people at the hospital where I work that will also need to complete their Functional Skills Maths and English exams because of the changing legislations. I’m already speaking with Oxbridge about partnering with the hospital so that all of the exams can be taken in one place to keep things cost-effective.
However, outside of my professional world, I’d highly recommend Oxbridge to anyone who is serious about learning and their future. The team at Oxbridge are lovely and have a true ethos of caring and will support you no matter what. For me, they did what no other college could, and for that, my career has flourished and I’ve become a better version of myself.
Maybe you’ve got a story to share too? We’d love to hear it! Give yourself a voice and shout about something you’re proud of on our social media, using the hashtag #IcanIwill