A truly inspirational nursing student has won a national award for her commitment to study, having overcome many illnesses and losing her speech while being a mother of four.
Kimberley Quant from Exeter said it was “completely amazing” to win the CAVA Keith Fletcher award for ‘Outstanding Commitment to Study’.
“I stand up for the people that didn’t get the same opportunities that others did and have proven we can do it,” she added.
The awards celebrate the very best in Access to Higher Education students across the UK, highlighting what a positive effect the education pathway can have on people’s lives.
At 16 Kimberley had barely any GCSEs and thought she would never get into her dream job of nursing so gained qualifications in travel and tourism.
However, the ‘dream’ refused to die, and on spotting an advert for Access to Higher Education diploma in Nursing at Bicton College, she took the plunge and applied.
“I had so little belief in myself, but I knew where I wanted to be,” she explained.
“At the start of this course I was not very academic, I struggled with basic mathematics and English literature.
“However, as my course progressed with the help from my completely outstanding tutors, I didn’t just complete my access diploma, I completely smashed it, doing 110% better than I ever would have thought.”
Team Leader Access TCCG, Kevin Smale, said Kimberley “is arguably the most extraordinary learner I have ever had the pleasure of working with in 18 years of Access teaching”.
“When I interviewed Kimberley she came over as a chatty, high energy, very enthusiastic young woman who had maybe not made the most of her learning opportunities during her school days,” he explained.
“She did not possess either her English or Maths GCSEs, but there are times when we have to make a professional judgement about borderline applicants and in Kimberley’s case she basically gave me no choice here, this was her time and she was going to do her Access diploma in Nursing.”
However, it wasn’t just the academic challenge that lay ahead of the mother of four. Over Christmas last year, Kimberley was rushed into hospital twice and unable to communicate.
She re-gained her speech very quickly and emailed Kevin to say she might have to have an extension of a week for one of her essays.
“This young lady is a positivity machine, nothing gets in her way,” Kevin said.
Kimberley said her course became the sole focus to get her through this incredibly difficult period.
“I focused on my studies and got my work done and in on time regardless and I was so proud,” she added.
Kimberley also wanted to thank the staff at Bicton College.
“The education I was given has been amazing and I truly believe it was the belief of my tutors that got me through it,” she explained.
And her advice to those who are uncertain about getting back into education, “don’t second think it”.
“Take every single opportunity that comes your way, because the feeling you get on completion is like no other,” she continued.
“My kids have a mum to be proud of now, and never think you’re not good enough or never had the right grades for university; if you want something enough you’ll get there.
“My children now call me a nurse and one is even stating they want to be a nurse like mummy! To hear that makes me amazingly proud!”