Wendy overcomes barriers to achieve her degree-level dreams


Wendy Richards, who has overcome Aspergers to sign up on a foundation degree course through TCAT

Wendy Richards has been overcoming barriers for most of her life. The 37-year-old, from Aqueduct in Telford, has Asperger’s Syndrome which makes her nervous in large group situations.

But this hasn’t stopped her from following her dreams of earning a degree, with the help of Telford College of Arts and Technology.

Wendy has lived in Telford for nearly 15 years, having moved up from Buckinghamshire to make a fresh start.

She was working in insurance at the time, but knew that her career aspirations law elsewhere.

She enrolled on a level two course in Specific Learning Difficulties and Behavioural Disorders at TCAT in 2014, and has since graduated onto a Foundation Degree in Health & Social Care.

Now, with a degree-level qualification in her sights, Wendy is aiming to carve out a successful career in the care industry.

She says: “My time at TCAT has improved my confidence, and I’ve learned a lot, making lots of friends as part of my degree.

“The fact that we study in smaller groups really works for me, as it’s a much more personal course giving constant contact with lecturers, who are really supportive.

“My advice to anyone out there is that if there is something you want to do, and if TCAT offers the course, give it a go.

“Don’t let any challenges hold you back, because TCAT offers all the help you may need accessing agencies who can support you, if required.”

Wendy is a volunteer mentor with Autonomy, a support group for people with Aspergers.

“With this degree I hope to complete a mentoring qualification and progress into a career,” she says.

Wendy’s foundation degree course is at University Centre Telford, a joint venture between TCAT and the University of Wolverhampton, based at Southwater.

Paula Costin, a lecturer in classroom support and learning difficulties at TCAT, and curriculum co-ordinator for community education, says: “We are all very proud of what Wendy has achieved so far.

“When she was first at TCAT back in 2014, it was the first course she had ever completed. Her Aspergers had always meant that she tended to get too stressed and anxious to finish things off.”

The team at Southwater said the small class sizes on the Foundation Degree course had helped her greatly, and seen her become a much more relaxed and confident person.

For more information on degree-level courses through TCAT, call 01952 642237, or see http://www.tcat.ac.uk.

About Association of Colleges West Midlands

AoC West Midlands promotes and supports the interests of 38 general further education, sixth form and specialist colleges throughout the West Midlands region. The West Midlands is a diverse region and our colleges reflect this diversity. From small specialist colleges in rural locations to large inner city establishments, colleges reflect the needs of their local environment. Working closely with employers, learners and the local community, our 38 member colleges offer a broad range of flexible learning opportunities for individuals at all levels. They aim to give local people the skills they need for success and prosperity, tackling barriers to learning and providing opportunities that meet the needs of individuals and employers
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