Dedicated mother, carer, and nursing student, Michelle Tran is on course to fulfilling her ambitions to become a children's nurse thanks to a well-deserved bursary award presented by the Helena Kennedy Foundation (HKF).
The 39-year-old mother of four from Greenwich enrolled onto the Nursing Level 3 Access to HE Diploma based at our Bexley Campus in September 2016 and within just one year, progressed successfully onto a BSc Children's Nursing degree at King's College London.
To help with the costs of essential equipment and extra childcare, she has recently been successful in winning a bursary award which was presented to her personally by Baroness Helena Kennedy QC at a special ceremony in the House of Lords.
At the age of 19, Michelle began studying for a degree in Biomedical Science at the University of Wolverhampton but left when she became pregnant with her first child. The birth of her second child resulted in complications that left her son with multiple disabilities and subsequently meant having to dedicate herself to his full-time care for a further 17 years.
Now, she aims to re-start her career in the medical profession and is using many of the skills she has learned over the intervening period, plus the theoretical knowledge picked up on her access course, to achieve a degree.
"Having done well at school in my GCSEs, I found that A levels were a different story altogether," said Michelle. "Maybe I'd had enough of studying by that time or I just needed something else to occupy my mind. I managed to scrape into university but it wasn't to last. However, from the moment I left, I've always had in the back of mind to return and achieve the highest possible qualification I can.
"Without good A-level grades, I chose the Access route to higher education and I'm so glad that I did. It meant having to condense my studies into two long days at College and the rest of the week would be spent looking after my son. It was incredibly hard work and I certainly burnt some midnight oil. The support I received from my tutors was fantastic and they helped me manage my time, gain lots of study skills and schedule my work so that it was always completed on time. In my final exams, I achieved distinction grades in all units."
Having progressed to university, Michelle now has to complete a certain number of hours working at King's College Hospital on a children's neurosurgical ward. She works with children who have suffered from brain tumors, head and spine injuries and much more.
She continues: "I find the work I do very rewarding. I see them arrive in hospital in a very bad way, undergo very traumatic surgery and other procedures and I help to nurse them back to health. By the time they are leaving the ward in much better health and waving goodbye to me, I get a warm glow of pride and satisfaction. I can honestly say, it's well worth the hours of work I put in.
"I am always learning new things; no day is like the last and I feel like I'm using all of the skills and techniques I developed over the years caring for my own child. This means I have certainly not wasted all of that time out of education."
Her tutor, Paula Bloomfield is full of praise for Michelle and describes her as a 'model student'. She says: "Michelle is one of the most dedicated and admirable people I have ever met. She is highly intelligent, driven and possesses the natural abilities and caring nature that make her ideal for the job of a nurse. I'm very proud of her."
Michelle will graduate from university in 2020, the same year as her eldest daughter who is currently studying for a degree in geography at the University of Leeds. Both are looking forward to a double celebration.
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