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Success Stories: Tom Kirby

posted by Rob on Monday, 21 October 2019

Learning is about so much more than chasing a career – it has the power to transform lives. Just ask Tom Kirby, who developed a more positive and confident lifestyle through perseverance and a resilient approach to self-improvement.

 At Oxbridge, we’re proud to support our students as they work towards achieving their ambitions – whatever those might be. Over the years, we’ve learnt that people have lots of goals and aspirations for the future, and that our distance learning courses are about so much more than building a career.

In our Success Stories series, we aim to share inspiring stories from our graduates, including their experience of studying with Oxbridge and where their new qualification has taken them. It’s our hope that their stories of self-development and hard work will encourage others to make positive change.

Here, Tom Kirby, a recent graduate on our Level 2 Certificate in Understanding Nutrition and Health qualification, explains what drove him to enrol on a distance learning course, as well as his plans for the future.


Tom's I can I will story and student experience with Oxbridge

Meet Tom, nutrition student extraordinaire, champion hockey player, and an advocate of mental health for those with learning disabilities.

Who They Are

At 28 years old, I’ve found that you’re never too old to learn new things. Though I live with learning disabilities, I believe nothing is impossible for me. There’s always so much in life that I want to do, and I get there by having the right attitude and support network watching my back.

Over the last few years, I’ve encountered my fair share of knock-backs, but a near-death experience transformed my outlook on life. I’d developed a stomach condition that led to complications and three surgeries on the road to recovery.

During that point, I decided life was fragile, and I wasn’t living enough. To make matters worse, I was being bullied online – it was one of the hardest periods of my life.

On the positive side, I still had my family, my friends, and my teammates. Hockey was working wonders for my mental health and wellbeing, too; this was something nobody could take away from me.

What They Wanted

Sadly, things took another turn for the worse. Because I played hockey, I faced the threat of losing my PIP funding (Personal Independence Payment). I was devastated.

They decided that if I could play hockey, I should be employed because I was more active than they thought, and they instantly stopped my funding. What they didn’t see is that taking part in sports doesn’t make it easier to find a job; it meant I had a healthy outlet. I didn’t let it get me down though.

Soon after, I realised that to overcome the hurdle of having no financial support, I needed a way to become more employable and self-sufficient. This led me to Oxbridge.

Tom's I can I will story and student experience with Oxbridge

Tom found comfort in running and changed lives by raising money for his favourite charity Mencap.

How We Helped

While hockey improved my physical wellbeing, Oxbridge’s nutrition course taught me how to maintain a good diet for better physical and psychological health. I’ve learned how to plan food intake and about foods that support brain functions to boost my concentration when learning

As part of my course, I particularly enjoyed studying food hygiene and have thought about a role in the food industry. When I’m ready to explore these avenues, I hope employers will support my needs.

Home learning with Oxbridge has been a game-changer, further building my confidence with zero pressure. Relaxing in my own environment made learning enjoyable. And when I got stressed, my tutor completely eased my worries.

Tom's I can I will story and student experience with Oxbridge

Tom looking focused as he’s ready to intercept a pass during a hockey match in Barcelona.

After Oxbridge, my goal is to impress employers and find myself a part-time job. I’m volunteering for a customer-facing role in Kings Heath at the moment, which is building my experience. But I’d love to find a paid position with support to grow a career. I just want a fair chance.

My learning difficulties do not dictate who I am, what I can achieve or the happy life I want to lead. I want to prove that anyone who’s in a similar situation to me can enjoy fantastic mental health and support.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inspired by Tom’s story? Would you like to start your own learning journey? Visit the homepage to access our full range of distance learning courses or give us a call to speak with one of our experienced course advisers on 0121 630 3000.